The Chicago Bulls (34-9) host the new look New York Knicks (18-23) as Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony and crew look to recapture the magic of a month ago.
When the Chicago Bulls met in the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Feb. 2, Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin received a DNP-Coach's Decision, along with power forward Steve Novak, fellow point guard Mike Bibby and somebody named Jerome Jordan. Derrick Rose proceeded to filet a Knicks backcourt consisting of Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker and Landry Fields, but on Monday night in Chicago, Lin will have a chance to put the brakes on the repeat performance that Rose surely has in mind.
Unfortunately for Lin and the Knicks, they roll into the Windy City in the midst of a five game losing streak and with Linsanity in a three-car pileup along with Carmelo Anthony's jump shot and New York's disappearing defense. Those five losses have come against four definite playoff teams (the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers), which has only helped underscore that Lin's breakout and New York's resurgence happened to come during a particularly soft spot in their schedule.
Right now the Knicks are focusing on how to work Anthony into an offense ran by Lin, not to mention new acquisition J.R. Smith and the perpetually baffling Amare Stoudemire, but whether or not they shake that out may be irrelevant if they continue to put up little resistance to the scoring efforts of their opponents. In those five losses the Knicks have given up an average of 110.5 points per game, which is a scoring rate that no offense, let alone one as presently disjointed as New York's, can consistently match.
The Bulls meanwhile have reclaimed the NBA's best record, having reeled off nine wins in their past ten games, including a few over teams like Philly and San Antonio that hold recent triumphs over the Knicks. Chicago will be banged up heading into the match up with the Knicks, but the same was true for their last meeting against New York, and Rose had no trouble putting the team on his back. On Monday night, he may just stage a sequel.
Game date/time: Monday, March 12, 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: United Center, Chicago, Ill.
Odds: Bulls by 8.5
For updates on the matchup, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage, visit Blog a Bull and Posting and Toasting. And for more news and notes from around the NBA, head over to SB Nation's NBA news hub.