Game Preview #27 - Bulls at New York Knicks

[Thanks to BULLieving in Miami for today's game preview (sign. up!) on this difficult day. Early east-coast start time of 6:30CST -ed.]

My shameful admission for the day: it is truly painful to write this right now. It's not to say that I wouldn't have put it past this team to have such a meltdown, but with the kind of game the Bulls were having in the first half of last night's game, I just couldn't imagine them blowing it. But alas, they find a way, still, to surprise me.

The thing that aggravates is I find myself thinking many things during that first half. Is Rose finally healthy, basically making November his training camp until he got back in game shape, or did he just "get up" for this one, perhaps catching wind of comparisons with Evans and looking to showcase himself? Is the first half a glimpse of what this team could be on a full-time basis if not for the coach, or were just extremely hot in that half? Truth be told, even when they got out to the early lead, I was pleased to see him playing the starters the bulk of the minutes, perhaps thinking maybe he's trying to get them to not let the foot off the Kings' throats, to keep the "effort" going, to not get comfortable with the lead. That game could've started turning the other way a lot earlier if VDN gets the bench players early, lets the starters lose their edge just sitting on the bench, and then the Kings cut the margin against the Hunters and JJs of the world. By the time the starters would come back in, it would take them a minute to get their heads back in the game, the Kings would have had them on their heels, and we'd get the same result. So which is disappointing: lose the lead in the first half or in the second half? The former is more typical of this team, but the latter is more dramatic. So if you crave basketball worth watching, last night was it. But I'm not getting on VDN's case this time for his rotations. But only this time. Next time, Vinny, you sleep with the fishes (that expression goes so well with his name). On to tonight's game...

I'm not sure what it is, but something about playing the Knicks always gets me excited, as if these two teams carried on the great rivalries of yesteryear. It'll actually be interesting to watch how the Knicks end up fairing in 2010. Who knows: maybe Derrick goes there as a free agent in a few years to play with a newly assembled core in D'Antoni's run-n-gun system. Rose isn't the passer/ distributor Nash is, but he is definitely athletic enough to get the ball up and down the court. I know many on here differ in your opinion of D'Antoni, but I really wanted him here. Its very possible that this front office, seeing the potential of a Rose-led D'Antoni offense, would've assembled better talent for this roster. But potential is a bad word within the Bulls organization. Eh, who knows... maybe Paxson just lost a bet to VDN during a shooting contest back in the day and owed him. Hey, a real man owns up to his gambling debts.

As much as I love the Bulls beating the Knicks, it's going to be challenging tonight. The Bulls are just not that good on the second game of a back-to-back. Actually, that is a huge understatement. They are just downright bad. They've had 5 back-to-backs. They are 0-5 on the back end of it. Four of those losses came on the road by an average margin of -26.2 points. Now, a dip in stats is expected on the road. Heck, Denver scores 14 points less per game on the road than at home, and with that they STILL outscore the Bulls. But I am not here to compare the Bulls to a good team like Denver, and oddly enough the scoring differential isn't a factor with the Bulls when it comes to home/road, but the performance of their top players is what makes them struggle so much on the road.





18.7pts/ .485FG%

15.7pts/ .419FG%


19.6pts/ .473FG%

16.8pts/ .454FG%


13.1pts/ .364FG%

14.3pts/ .410FG%


10.5pts/ 12.7rebs

10.0pts/ 10.9rebs

Oddly, Salmons is the one guy whose offense goes up a bit, but you can definitely see an appreciable difference in production. Now, get ready to cry when you see the stats to our key guys on the second game of a back-to-back versus on 1 day's rest (for example, which has happened 13 times). And since 4 of the 5 back end games were on the road, I'll just assume the stats for just the road losses look pretty similar.



     1-DAY REST


14.2pts/ .412FG%

18.0pts/ .456FG%


11.6pts/ .377FG%

19.2pts/ .459FG%


9.2pts/ .302FG%

15.8pts/ .420FG%

Now, by looking at this you'd think this team was the old San Antonio Spurs who are just gassed on the second night. That one night off to ice the knees does wonders for Tim Duncan, apparently. The Bulls are a team full of young legs. There is no reason whatsoever for this sort of dip. I might understand Salmons (though his drop is very drastic, especially in FG%) though he's in his "prime", if you can call it that. But Rose is a kid and Deng is still plenty young. Tonight's game will hinder on the Bulls' ability to buck the trend of these very telling stats.

Larry Hughes is questionable. And head over to Posting and Toasting (SB's Knicks blog) and let them know we still have a pulse over here.


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