1. Wednesday’s defeat for the Knicks occurred in heart breaking fashion as T.J. McConnell sunk a game-winning turnaround jumper from 12 feet at the buzzer to lift the Sixers to a home win. New York led by as much as 17 points in the first half and 11 in the fourth quarter but a young Philadelphia squad rallied to the finish line. Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 28 points, Derrick Rose returned to action and posted 25, and Kyle O’Quinn registered a double-double.
2. Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade were sidelined on Tuesday night in the Bulls road game against the Wizards. Due to the illness, Butler did not travel with the team to Washington, D.C. and Wade sat out the back-to-back to rest. Butler was in the midst of a massive two weeks in which he scored 40 points on December 28, a career-high 52 against the Hornets on January 2, and 42 points six days ago in a win over the Raptors. Butler and Nikola Mirotic are out tonight for Chicago but Wade is expected to return to the starting lineup.
3. The Bulls are right in the mix of the playoff race with a 19-20 overall record, sitting just outside of the eighth spot in the latest Eastern Conference standings. New York is two games behind Chicago in the 11th spot with a 17-22 mark this season. The Knicks are 11-8 at Madison Square Garden while the Bulls are 7-12 in road games.
4. Chicago will enter Thursday’s content in search of a win to even the season series against the Knicks. On November 4, New York traveled to Chi-Town in Rose and Joakim Noah’s first trip back to face their former team. The early season matchup resulted in one of the best wins for the Knicks, considering Rose dished out 11 assists and Noah scored 16 points and grabbed nine in the road victory. New York shot 42.9 percent from the arc and 51.7 percent from the floor while recording an impressive 32 team assists.
5. A stat to watch in tonight’s game is the productivity on the glass from both teams. Chicago is the No. 1 team in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage and New York ranks No. 4. In fact, the Knicks are the fourth best team in overall rebounding this season. Second chance opportunities will be available as a direct result of these rebounding numbers and could play a significant factor for the winning team.
by Jonah Ballow