The New York Knicks seem unstoppable recently. The Knicks are on a 13-game winning streak, beating up on mediocre teams and good teams alike. They have crushed every challenger, eradicating any doubts on the team.
They just have one weakness. Their kryptonite, if you will: the Chicago Bulls. This season, the Knicks have not been able to beat the Bulls.
The teams have played three times and the Bulls won them all, convincingly. No other opponent has gotten under the Knicks’ skin as much as the Bulls have. No other opponent has beaten the Knicks three times this season.
On Thursday night the Knicks will get one last chance. They will go into Chicago and try to avoid a season-series sweep. And it will be interesting to watch. A tale of two teams that are going in complete opposite directions: One team has separated itself from the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference, inching closer to the Miami Heat. The other team has fallen out of the race for home-court advantage in the first round and have been struggling.
The Knicks rank third in offensive efficiency and the Bulls rank fifth in defensive efficiency; New York ranks 18th in defensive efficiency and Chicago 23rd in offensive efficiency. So the Knicks have to try and impose their will immediately, but that will be hard to do with no big men.
The Knicks have nothing up front. With Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace out, who will play center? It will be tough—even without the Bulls’ big men—but the Knicks can’t allow the Bulls to push them around and own the paint. If they lose that battle, the Knicks’ streak may end in Chicago—the Bulls have done it already, snapping the Heat’s 27-game winning streak.
One thing that will give the Knicks a chance to extend their streak, though, and what’s been helping them all along, are their three-pointers—well, their scorching offense in general has helped. The lack of size doesn’t matter when the Knicks are shooting like they have been. The team has been shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the arc during their streak.
As long as the Knicks don’t let the Bulls own them in the paint, and they don’t revert to bad habits like self-indulgent play, or terrible shot selection, they will be good to go.