One free throw. That’s all it would have taken from Luol Deng or Derrick Rose to further expose the hero ball Knicks (8-34 from 3-point land) as jump shooting 1st round playoff out. But instead, the two all-stars gagged from the line (0-4) in clutch time to give Carmelo Anthony the opportunity to display his big balls in front of a national TV audience.
I know some Bulls fans are petrified at the prospect of playing this Knicks team in round one, but those people shouldn’t waste time worrying about an upset. As a matter of fact, I’m rooting for these two teams to clash in the playoffs for the first time since ’96 because it will be a nice little 5 game ass kicking en route to the conference semi-finals.
The Bulls gave Sunday’s game away to New York despite clawing back from 21 points down. And as much as I appreciate Tyson Chandler’s ability to affect a game & the love I have for Iman Shumpert’s game, this Knicks team will get dissected and worn down by the Bulls. Take the following into account…
This was Derrick Rose’s first game back after missing the previous 12. It took him all of 24 minutes to regain his MVP form, and he’ll be the best player in that series. Sorry Melo, but you know it’s true. Once Rose gets back into game shape (give it about a week), Shumpert won’t be able to stay with him defensively. Shump is one of my favorite young players in the league, but we’re talking about the reigning MVP here. I know there are certain basketball fools who think the Bulls are better without Rose, but he’ll be dying to make a statement vs this squad come playoff time. The Knicks did a good job of clogging the lane vs Rose, but his touch around the rim and on his floaters will only improve as he gets his wind and game back.
As easy of a target as Melo is, the man can play the game. I’ve lost respect for him because of his indifference during Mike D’Antoni’s last few games with the team, but you saw Sunday why he’s so deadly in Jordan time. But remember, all Rose or Deng has to do is make one free throw and the talk is how the Knicks blew a 21 point lead at home. Those free throws will be made Tuesday night, and in the playoffs.
And if Amare Stoudemire’s 87 year old body is back by the end of this Month, so be it. He is decrepit and breaking down more and more every game he plays. Scouting and coaching matter in the playoffs, and the Bulls will make Landry Fields try and go left, allow J.R. Smith to jack up 3′s at will, dare Melo to stay outside and force up tough shots & know that the Knicks are this close to allowing a 40 point quarter. Sure, Mike Woodson has done a nice job of getting this team to defend harder, but the Bulls’ depth will wear down this team over the course of a series.
I don’t sweat this Knicks squad, and neither should any Bulls fan. They are a front running team that is prone to hero ball demoralizing them in big moments. So enjoy this win, New York. You lucked out in a game you led by 21 against a rusty D Rose. I hope you stay in the 8th spot and give the Bulls the big stage to quickly remove you from the playoffs. It will be a familiar scene, and one that Bulls fans should be clamoring for.