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Bulls vs. Knicks Game Preview and Open Thread

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Bulls ‘big’ ‘three’ didn’t make the trip

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (24-45) at New York Knicks (25-45)

6:30 p.m., WGN

Injury Report:

Lauri Markkanen (back spasms), Zach LaVine (knee), and Kris Dunn (turf toe) didn’t travel to New York City. Bulls forward Noah Vonleh remains questionable for the game tonight with a toe injury that caused him to miss the Bulls matchup against the Cavaliers on Saturday.

Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL in his left knee in early February meaning the only player you’d come to watch the Knicks for is obviously out tonight. Ron Baker is out with a long-term shoulder injury, and former Bulls hero Joakim Noah remains away from the team. Forward Lance Thomas is away from the team as well due to personal reasons.

Season Series:

Of course, the Bulls are 3-0 against the Knicks this season and of course they’ve won those three games by a total of ten points.

Knicks versus Bulls matchups this season have been billed as Markkanen versus Porzingis and the European unicorns didn’t disappoint. Porzingis led all scorers in the first two matchups between the two teams, while Markkanen exploded for a career-high 33 points (including eight 3-point field goals) and this ceiling toppling dunk on Enes Kanter the last time the two teams met.

But, of course, both players won’t play tonight.

Preview:

According to the New York Post, the Knicks players are public relations-ing hard about how they aren’t trying to lose games just like the Bulls.

It bothers me, but I understand from a fans’ standpoint,’’ Trey Burke said. “But from a players’ standpoint … they have to understand as well. That’s all I ask for them. Do you all want us to go out there and look bad and look like bums? They might say we already look like bums. It’s not in my DNA to go out and lose. I don’t know how to do that.’’

This game is important in the grand scheme of the NBA tankathon. A mere half game separates the two teams, and with the Bulls having already won the first three matchups, they need the separation in the standings that a loss tonight against the Knicks would give them because NYK owns the tiebreaker.

Note: thanks to Gary in the comments, reminder that head-to-head does not affect the lottery tiebreaker. The tie is maintained in terms of # of lottery balls for top-3 selection, then the other draft slots are un-tied by coin flip.

The Knicks had lost nine games in a row before making the mistake of beating the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. Tim Hardaway Jr., man of the four-year, $70 million contract, currently leads the Knicks in scoring (now that Porzingis is out) at 17.2 points per game. Kanter has quietly averaged a double-double this season as one of the more underrated big men in the league, while Michael Beasley continues to plug away at his solid journeyman career in year 10 in the NBA.

Debate question: when we look back in twenty years at the careers of Derrick Rose and Beasley, who will we look back at more favorably? Obviously, Beasley can’t compete with Rose’s upside, but Beasley has been an extremely solid player in this league for ten years (12.6 points per game). Like if you were an NBA player, would you rather have your career be a duplicate of Rose’s or Beasley’s?

The fact that I’m talking about Rose again speaks volumes about the lack of intrigue around this game tonight. If Noah could unexpectedly ride into Madison Square Garden on a white horse, his hair flowing in the wind like the movies that’d be a great way to add some intrigue to a game that nobody but the diehards will want to watch.