The top two teams in the Eastern Conference are set to square off as the Chicago Bulls host the New York Knicks in an early-season matchup. New York comes into Chicago riding high from a 112-99 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, a win that snapped a 15-game losing streak to the 76ers. Meanwhile, the Bulls are one of three remaining undefeated teams in the league. Both teams are riding the hot start of their biggest superstars, but which one will leave Thursday’s game as the number one team in the east?
New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls: Prediction
New York Knicks
The Knicks started the season off with a hard-fought overtime win against the Boston Celtics. They went on to split a home-and-home against the Orlando Magic before dismantling the short-handed 76ers on Tuesday at home. They are led by All-Star Julius Randle, who is currently leading the team in points, rebounds, blocks, and assists per game. Offseason signing Evan Fournier has proven to be a big addition so far, averaging 19 points per game, second-best on the team. He also leads the team with 1.5 steals per contest. Kemba Walker and RJ Barrett have been shooting the ball well and look to be a dangerous backcourt combination so long as Walker stays healthy.
The Knicks deep bench is led by former MVP Derrick Rose. Now the sixth man, Rose is averaging 14.3 points and 4 assists per game. Second-year forward Obi Toppin has been impressive as well, putting up a stat line of 9.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1 steal, and 0.8 blocks per game despite only playing 19 minutes on average. Alec Burks has been solid and Immanuel Quickley continues to show flashes of brilliance in his limited playing time. The Knicks’ high-powered offense currency ranks third in the league in points per game (118.8).
The Bulls are the last remaining unbeaten team in the eastern conference. All-Star Zach LaVine leads the team in scoring with 25.5 points per game. Chicago made a number of roster moves dating back to last season’s trade deadline. Including last year’s acquisition of Nikola Vucevic, four of the Bulls’ top-five scorers are new additions. DeMar DeRozan has made an immediate impact, ranking second on the team in points (22.5) and rebounds (5.8) per game. Lonzo Ball is surprisingly leading the team in blocks per game. Unsurprisingly, he also leads Chicago with 5 assists per game. He still needs to cut down on turnovers, but his two steals a game help to make up for that in the meantime.
Alex Caruso leads the bench in scoring with 8 points per game. The former Los Angeles Laker also leads Chicago with 3.3 steals per game. Besides him, this bench is a little thin. The Bulls hope to get more from Javonte Green and Troy Brown Jr. While the Bulls lead the NBA in two-point field goal percentage, they are dead last in the league from beyond the arc. For now, Chicago can rely on their defensive prowess to keep them in games. The Bulls are currently ranked fourth in the league in defensive rating.
Knicks vs. Bulls – Prediction
Chicago is the slight favorite going into this game. While the Knicks are higher in the power rankings, the Bulls’ homecourt advantage seems to be enough to get the oddsmakers in their corner. The matchup will be a battle of opposite styles as the third-ranked Knicks offense takes on the fourth-ranked Bulls defense. The Bulls may have the better starting lineup, but the Knicks’ depth is a major advantage.
New York has more shot creators on their roster, which gives them an advantage in late-game scenarios. Caruso has been clutch for the Bulls with his late-game defense, but who can match up with Randle in the frontcourt? Due to Randle’s effectiveness, the ability to spread the floor offensively, and an advantage on the glass, the Knicks look ready to knock the Bulls from the realm of the unbeaten.
The New York Knicks outlast the Chicago Bulls.
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