New York Knicks Preview: The Keys To Defeating The Chicago Bulls

The New York Knicks enter the clash with the rival Chicago Bulls at 1-3. What must New York do in order to secure its second win of the season?


Mar 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) controls the ball as Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) defends during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are in desperate need of a victory to help stabilize what’s becoming a losing season. It’s only been four games, but New York has been blown out twice and lost by 13 points to the Detroit Pistons.

True as that all may be, the game that the Knicks are about to play will be unlike any other on the 2016-17 NBA regular season schedule.

The Knicks will travel to play the rival Chicago Bulls on Friday, November 4. The history between the two teams is rich enough to warrant hype and excitement, but it’s more than just another encounter between two teams that hate each other.

Friday, November 4 will mark the first time that new additions Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will play in Chicago against the Bulls.

With the tension high and the emotion certain to be a factor, the Knicks are approaching a game that could go either way. Rose and Noah could lead an explosive attack or they could be overwhelmed by the moment.

The question: what will the five keys be to defeating the rival Bulls and getting the season back on track?

Oct 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) shoots in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 117-88. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) shoots in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 117-88. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

5. Establish The 3-Ball

The Chicago Bulls have the potential to be one of the Top 5 defensive teams in the NBA in 2016-17. Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez form one of the best defensive interiors in the Association and the trio of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler can lock opponents down.

Having established that, the New York Knicks must establish the 3-point shot early in order to open the floor for the offense to flourish.

The Knicks shot 8-of-20 from beyond the arc against the Houston Rockets, but those numbers are misleading. Ron Baker and Mindaugas Kuzminskas—players who should be seeing more court time—made 3-point field goals in garbage time.

A more accurate reflection of what New York has done from distance was when Jeff Hornacek’s crew shot 7-of-22 from distance against the Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks will need to create penetration, but the Bulls have two rugged interior defenders as the last line of defense. Thus, in order to catch them out of position, New York must space the floor and keep the perimeter players honest.

The likes of Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis, and even Derrick Rose must be up to the task.

Oct 14, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (8) warms up prior to the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

4. Win The Interior Battle

The Chicago Bulls have a number of quality big men to be wary of. That list includes Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic, who have all either given the New York Knicks trouble or played for the team themselves.

The Knicks have a number of quality big men themselves, but the interior battle must be won in order for victory to be achieved.

Mirotic has recorded games of 35 points, 24 points, and 17 points with seven assists against the Knicks. Gibson had a pair of 10-point games against New York in 2015-16, although his impact is primarily made through his defense and physicality.

As for Lopez, he has the motivation of being traded by the Knicks after what was a productive and respectable 2015-16 campaign in New York.

Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, and Kristaps Porzingis will have their hands full with Chicago’s interior. Gibson and Lopez are energy guys who could match Noah’s intensity, and Mirotic gave Porzingis fits in 2016-17.

Fortunately for the Knicks, Porzingis had a 29-point game and Anthony averaged 24.3 points on 50.6 percent shooting against Chicago in 2015-16.

Oct 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) dribbles the ball past Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 111-104. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ball Movement

There have been times in 2016-17 when the New York Knicks have executed the offense to near perfection. The up-tempo offense has overwhelmed opponents, while the triangle offense has looked quite effective.

Though Joakim Noah may be reemerging as a prominent facilitator, the rest of the Knicks have displayed a painful tendency to fall into their isolation tendencies in the fourth quarter.

11.9 percent of the Knicks’ total possessions have resulted in isolation plays—the highest mark of any team in the NBA. Far more concerning than the volume is the fact that New York is shooting just 27.3 percent on isolation shot attempts.

The vast majority of the damage New York has sustained has been in the fourth quarter, when the stars seem to give up on moving the ball and dribble out the shot clock.

Hornacek has New York headed in the right direction, but the Knicks need four quarters of strong offensive play. That’s been elusive thus far in 2016-17, but the game against Chicago is the perfect place to start.

It’d be understandable for Derrick Rose to want to go ISO against his former team in his hometown, but the Knicks need to keep the ball moving against Chicago’s defense.

Mar 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) blocks a dunk attempt by New Orleans Pelicans forward Alonzo Gee (15) during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) blocks a dunk attempt by New Orleans Pelicans forward Alonzo Gee (15) during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2. Protecting The Rim

The Chicago Bulls have shot the 3-ball surprisingly well during the early part of the 2016-17 NBA regular season. Dwyane Wade has been aggressive in the way he’s shot the 3-ball, Jimmy Butler is building towards an efficient season, and Nikola Mirotic is tapping into his potential.

The primary source of offense in Chicago, however, is the presence of multiple slashing guards who can get to the rim and finish with efficiency.

Wade is headed to the Hall of Fame on the strength of his all-time versatility, but his primary skill has always been his ability to get to the rim. Even at 34 years of age, Wade has no trouble creating penetration.

The same can be said for the more explosive Jimmy Butler and the incomparably crafty Rajon Rondo, who can weave through defenses with his eyes closed.

For the New York Knicks to secure a victory, Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah must step up defensively. The perimeter defenders must step up, as well, but it’s Porzingis and Noah who must establish their dominance in the paint.

From there, the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee, and Derrick Rose would have a much easier time preventing penetration if Chicago’s wings were hesitant to go into the paint.

Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) controls the ball against the Houston Rockets in front of New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joakim Noah & Derrick Rose

The New York Knicks will get their energy from two players against the Chicago Bulls: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Whether or not you believe they’re the two best players on the team, they’re the stars who have the most to gain from this game.

On Friday, November 4, Noah and Rose will play in Chicago for the first time as members of a team other than the Bulls.

There’s no way to accurately predict how Noah and Rose will respond to playing in Chicago for the first time since being let go by the organization. Noah played for the Chicago from 2007 to 2016 and Rose did the same from 2008 to 2016.

Through that near decade, Noah and Rose became the heart and soul of an organization that hadn’t experienced any significant measure of success since Michael Jordan retired.

Rose has played quite well with the New York Knicks, averaging 16.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting. Noah is averaging 7.5 rebounds and a team-leading 5.5 assists in just 22.5 minutes, which translates to 12.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists per 36 minutes.

Beyond the numbers, the Knicks will need Noah and Rose to keep their composure and live in the moment instead of shying away from it.

That’s a lot to ask of any person in Noah or Rose’s position, but this game could be the turning point for two of the Knicks’ most valuable players.

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