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Game Preview: New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls, January 3rd, 2024

The new look Knicks are going Prime Time tonight!

Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

New York, N.Y.- The Chicago Bulls are in town tonight to face the New York Knicks in front of a nationally televised audience at 8:30 PM on ABC. Are we in 2024 or 1995? When was the last time that the Knicks and Bulls clashed in a midweek regular-season night game not coinciding with a holiday in front of a nationally televised audience be it on ABC or even NBC? If only it were 1995 and we were all getting hyped for Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman coming into town for what was sure to have been a future ESPN and NBATV Classic. However, it’s 2024 now, and the reality is that there won’t be any Michael Jordan, no Patrick Ewing, and there is a very slim chance of tonight’s game becoming a future classic replay all together. Tonight’s matchup between the Chicago Bulls (15-20) and the Knicks (18-15) instead offers fans part two of the new look Knicks since the recent trade with the Toronto Raptors, bringing OG Anunoby to the Big Apple.

As Knicks fans are still grappling with the departure of Immanuel Quickley, OG made a strong impression in his debut with the team. Without much, if any real practice since joining the team, he seamlessly assumed RJ Barrett’s starting position and contributed 17 points and 6 rebounds in 35 minutes of playing time. Amidst the ongoing discourse surrounding the trade outcome and the lamentation over losing IQ, OG lived up to expectations, hitting an impressive 50% of his 6 three-point attempts, securing 2 steals, and boasting a team-high +/- of 19.

Outside of OG’s debut, the Knicks own version of Batman and Robin in the form of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson put on a show during Monday’s matinee for the Gotham City crowd. Randle flourished with a game-high 39 points, on 14-24 shooting Meanwhile, Jalen Brunson orchestrated the court masterfully, notching a game-high 14 assists in addition to his 16 points.

The battered Bulls are arriving in town following a 110-97 defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers, grappling with the absence of key players Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic, both listed as out due to injuries. Adding to their woes, Coby White, who tweaked his ankle in the previous game, is now a game-time decision. With Lavine and Vucevic sidelined, the Bulls have leaned heavily on the talents of DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond to shoulder the team’s responsibilities. DeRozan, performing consistently at his usual high standard, is set to draw significant attention from Knicks fans tonight. One can’t help but wonder if this matchup could serve as an audition for the Knicks’ management, sparking rumors of a potential move to bring DeRozan to New York next.

Amidst persistent rumors surrounding the futures of both Lavine and DeRozan in recent weeks, the struggling Bulls, with a record of just 15-20, are preparing for what might signal the commencement of a breakdown and rebuild phase. While the prospect of adding DeRozan to the Knicks’ roster presents an appealing immediate boost, it’s crucial to consider the 34-year-old’s age. Surrendering a substantial number of picks for his acquisition would not align with any long-term strategy, especially given the availability of younger alternatives in the form of Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray.

While the spotlight may naturally gravitate towards DeRozan, the Knicks would be wise to shift their focus to Drummond. Since Vucevic’s injury, Drummond has been a dominant force, leading the league in rebounds with an impressive average of 18.7 per game. Notably, he is currently on track to surpass Dennis Rodman’s longstanding single-season rebound percentage record of 29.7%, set in 1995, with Drummond boasting an exceptional 30.1%. Though Vucevic’s impending return will likely relegate Drummond back to the bench, the Knicks could potentially breathe new life into their lineup by securing him as a New York Knick. This move would promptly address the existing void in the starting center position. With a salary of $3.3 million this year, Drummond emerges as a cost-effective option. In the event that the Bulls opt for a full rebuild, Drummond stands out as a player capable of making an immediate impact, particularly due to his prowess on the boards and ability to function without constant ball reliance. The only drawback lies in his free throw shooting, but in the grand scheme, it’s a manageable trade-off for the potential benefits he brings. It’s also worth acknowledging that Mitchell Robinson wasn’t exactly on par with Mark Price in that department either.

Projected Starters

Chicago Bulls

G- Alex Caruso

G- Coby White

F- DeMar DeRozan

F- Patrick Williams

C- Andre Drummond

Knicks

G- Jalen Brunson

G- Donte DiVincenzo

F- OG Anunoby

F- Julius Randle

C- Isaiah Hartenstein

Game Details:

Who: New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls

When: 8:30 pm EST, Wednesday, January 3rd

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

Watch: ABC

Follow: @ptknicksblog

The Knicks haven’t dipped below the 100-point mark since November 13th, and there’s no indication of the scoring momentum slowing down tonight. Anticipate Randle to maintain his dominant form, consistently delivering 20 or more points since November 24th. The energy at the Garden is expected to match Monday’s fervor, creating an electric atmosphere regardless of the Bulls’ lineup. A Knicks-Bulls matchup at the Garden always carries a tinge of nostalgia. While DeRozan remains a formidable force, it’s noteworthy that he hasn’t surpassed the 30-point mark since December 11th. Without Lavine and Vucevic, the Bulls seem ill-equipped to keep pace with the Knicks tonight. Predicting a Knicks victory, with a final score of 118-105.