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Pre-Game: Knicks vs. Bulls- 1/11/13

The Knicks play those feisty Bulls back at MSG.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Man, I really hope the Knicks can find a way to win tonight. Chicago's already taken two games from the Knicks, but both under weird circumstances: the first lacked Carmelo Anthony, the second was that titanic meltdown in which damn near everybody got ejected then New York almost came back. The Knicks have hopefully learned from those losses (and the Boston one and the Memphis one and a few others) that top defensive teams will pressure the hell out of them and spare no violence in doing so. The Knicks aren't going to get the calls they feel they deserve, and they need to avoid losing their collective shit in response. Keep your shit, Knicks. Offense, we've learned, is going to be particularly tough to come by without Raymond Felton to penetrate and create (and miss shots). Chicago could have an even easier time of denying Tyson Chandler his interior touches.

Speaking of shit-losing and offense: Melo's back. He's ready to suit up again after serving a one-game suspension for his battle with Kevin Garnett, and I'm fascinated to see how he plays. That performance against the Celtics didn't appear to be just an off night; it was a frantic, emotional outburst that affected the way Melo played the game. How will Melo recover from that bizarre night and the prolonged fallout? Will he get right back on track? Will he return with a vengeance? Would returning with a vengeance mean producing even more, or continuing to struggle? I have no idea, but I think of the Bulls as right up near the Celtics in terms of gall and likelihood of enraging Melo. This isn't going to be boring one way or the other.

(By the way, who starts? Does Woodson stick Pablo Prigioni or a wing into the lineup and move Melo back to the four, or does Kurt Thomas start in place of Marcus Camby? At this point, I think I'd prefer the former just for the possibility of a spark. Expecting the latter, though.)

But yeah, a win would be so nice. The Knicks leave for London and a one-game week after this weekend (one more game against the Hornets). Boarding that plane after having at least momentarily conquered the Bulls, the Friday Night Knicks curse, and the recent struggles at home would feel vastly superior to marinating in a three-game losing streak for a few days. These Knicks haven't yet demonstrated that they can weather the Bulls' physical, nettlesome defense, but maybe the third time's the charm.

See you a little before 8!

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