As the Chicago Bulls welcome the streaking New York Knicks to the United Center, both teams are hurting. Especially on the big man front. The Bulls will be without Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson — and Derrick Rose, of course — while the Knicks will be missing 5 (Five!) bigs, with Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas are all injured. Granted, neither Wallace nor Thomas has played any time recently, but still.
The Bulls could also be without Luol Deng, who is officially a game-time decision. Deng’s been banged up and resting of late, but apparently he might be back tonight. Although it is Tom Thibodeau, so take that game-time thing with several grains of salt and possibly a saltwater taffy factory.
The Knicks enter with a 13-game winning streak, which has led to excitement among Bulls fans who hope to break another streak on national TV after ending the Miami Heat’s 27-game win streak a few weeks ago. Carmelo Anthony has been white-hot of late, and with Deng possibly out, it would fall to Jimmy Butler to slow him down.
In three games against New York so far, the Bulls have done a great job limiting the Knicks’ offense. The Knicks use ball movement to find open threes — particularly corner threes — but Chicago under Thibs makes a specific effort to limit threes, particularly corner threes. Thus far, Thibs and company have come out on top. But without Noah and Gibson, that task gets much tougher. Malcolm Thomas was solid, if not spectacular, in Tuesday’s loss, and figures to see significant time again as the Bulls scramble to fill their frontcourt void.