The last time the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks squared off at Madison Square Garden it was like watching a fight scene from Rocky. There were nine technical fouls called, four ejections, with tension so high you could feel it through your television screen. Tonight, the two teams meet again with no love lost and a whole lot to prove.
The Bulls have played the Knicks twice and both times Chicago has won. New York is looking to finally get over the hump, but if the Bulls stick to the game plan which is to play solid half court defense, get back in transition, and move the ball they will surely give themselves a chance to leave New York with a victory.
Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer have to show up tonight if the Bulls have any chance of beating the Knicks. All three have to play big. Deng not only needs to lock it down defensively, but he has to be a scoring threat. I repeat–he has to be a scoring threat.
Deng must enter this game tonight with a killer mindset; be a defender and a scorer. Noah has to do what he does best: bring energy and effort. He needs to be aggressive and play at a high level because his teammates feed off of his passion. And Boozer, my dear Carlos Boozer, its imperative that you have a double-double.
Boozer, tonight has to be a 20 and 10 type of night. You want to be leader? Then lead. Don’t just bobble your head and clap your hands on defense, but actually get down and move your feet. I repeat–move your feet! The Bulls need you to play big and with energy. So eat your Wheaties, lace up your Nikes and be prepared to go to work.
Chicago also need to win the battle of the “mind game.” It was clear the last time these two teams met the Knicks lost their cool; seeing players such as Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and even head coach Mike Woodson get ejected. Anthony also lost his head earlier this week with Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. It’s obvious the way to disrupt the Knicks is to get inside their heads and frustrate them into playing one-on-one instead of team ball.
Both teams have a lot to prove. The Knicks want to get a win against a team that’s owned them this season while the Bulls are looking to make a statement that even without No.1 in the lineup, they are a top team in the east. Both teams hate each other, both teams have “Beast of the East” aspirations, but only one can win.
Who will it be? The short tempered Knicks? Or the heartfelt Bulls? We’ll find out tonight when round 3 goes down!