The New York Knicks try to make it two straight wins over the Chicago Bulls when the Eastern Conference contenders clash on Sunday. The opening tip for this game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at the United Center in Chicago.
The Knicks are coming off a 106-99 home win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday, their second win in the last five games. New York is 9-7 and in second place in the Atlantic Division, trailing the first-place Brooklyn Nets by 2½ games and leading the third-place Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers by a half-game.
Chicago is also coming off a win, topping Denver 114-108 on Friday to complete a West Coast road swing with a 3-2 mark. The Bulls are 11-5 and in first place in the Central Division, leading the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks by 2½ games.
If you want to bet online on this key contest, the NBA lines have the Bulls as five-point favorites at home, with the over/under set at 209½ points. A moneyline bet gets you Chicago at -210, while the Knicks are listed at +175.
The Knicks have been struggling of late, failing to win two straight since the end of October. New York lost to the lowly Orlando Magic on Wednesday night before rallying to top the one-win Rockets on Saturday.
Forward Julius Randle continues to be the most consistent Knicks producer, averaging 19.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. But teams are learning to focus on him and let other New York players beat them, which has worked more often than not lately.
On Saturday, reserve guard Alec Burks got hot, scoring 17 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks rally for the win. Guard Even Fournier has also been a spark at times, as he had 19 points on Saturday after scoring in single-digits the past few games.
It’s been a guessing game which Knicks supporting cast member is going to step up to help out Randle. Defense is usually what can carry New York, but the Knicks rank 17th in the league in points allowed with 106.6.
Starting To Roll
A rough road trip ended with three wins in four games for the Bulls, including a win over Denver on Friday in which the team’s 1-2 punch of guard Zach LaVine and forward DeMar DeRozan combined for 62 points.
“They gotta pick either me or him,” LaVine said after Friday’s win. “One of us is gonna get a good look or create a play for somebody.”
LaVine had 36 points to go with five rebounds and four assists, while DeRozan had 26 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. The two Bulls rank fourth and fifth in the NBA scoring race, with LaVine averaging 26.8 points and DeRozan 26.6.
The two guards have needed to step up their production with the absence of center Nikola Vucevic since Nov. 10 due to testing positive for COVID-19. The 6-10 center is averaging 13.6 points and 10.9 rebounds this season.
Guard Lonzo Ball had been shooting well of late, hitting 10-of-15 3-pointers over a two-game stretch before going 1-of-6 on Friday night. Ball is the team’s fourth double-digit scorer at 12.8 points per game along with dishing out 4.6 assists per contest.
Bulls Win At Home
New York has been in a bit of disarray offensively lately, and that’s not a good way to be against the Bulls. Chicago is back at home and has two of the hottest scorers in the game right now, which will carry it to the easy win in this one.
When making your NBA picks, take Chicago to win and cover at home.