Having what has been said to be one of the best NBA season turnarounds in years, the Chicago Bulls are set to play against the New York Knicks tonight. With 44 wins in contrast to 29 losses, their current standing is at second place in the Eastern Conference, and are trailing only the Cavaliers for Central Division lead, having two and a half more losses than the latter. At tonight’s game with the Knicks, the Bulls are seeking to continue their pursuit as Central Division champs, in addition to getting one step closer to making the playoffs.
One major advantage the team has going for them in their upcoming game, is the fact that the Kincks have been weakened, mainly due to the absence of star-player Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was last seen playing for the East All-Stars, at the NBA All Star-Game that unfolded at Madison Square Garden in February of this year before announcing that he was dropping out of the season. Earlier in the season, he frequently complained of having a sore knee and has decided to take the rest of the season off in order to recuperate. Interestingly, Anthony almost signed with the Bulls as a free agent last summer.
Regardless of Anthony’s presence however, the 2014-15 season has been considered by experts and analysts to have been a disappointing one for the Knicks. They only have 14 wins this season, in contrast to 59 losses.
Recently they have lost four consecutive visitor games, with the game slated to occur tonight also being a visitor game. The Knicks will be coming to the home base arena for the Bulls, United Center in Chicago, IL, as the latter team attempts to reel in the Central Division title. Having already won twice against the Knicks in previous games this season, most believe that the odds are in the Bulls favor, though there are some naysayers who suggest that the third time may be the charm for the New York team.
The Bulls have demonstrated a strong turnaround this season. Starting off with numerous losses, they have managed to get back on par with their expectations and now have 15 more wins over losses and counting. While they do hope to make the playoffs, many of the players have said that they are mainly just focusing on winning as many games as they can and get in their “rhythm,” so to speak.
Jimmy Butler and Paul Gasol have showed themselves to be the strongest players on the team this season, with Butler scoring 23 points and Gasol scoring 18 points, respectively, at a game with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The Bulls won said game with 116 points in contrast to the 103 scored by the Raptors. Many have also been impressed with rookie player Nikola Mirotic, who has been consistently scoring 20.6 points per game.
The Bulls and their fans remain optimistic, with Butler being quoted as saying, “I think we can beat anybody.” With their recent wins helping the Bulls quickly approach the Central Division title, many would agree with Butler. As they go head to head with the Knicks tonight, the odds are saying that they are not going to let anyone down.
By Philip Cunningham
Photo by Keith Allison – Flickr License