Only the third team in NBA history to defeat the defending champion by 20 points on the road while playing without its leading scorer...The second time ever the Knicks have had two 20-point wins over the defending champion in one season...The first team ever to make 18+ treys in consecutive games against an opponent...The worst plus/minus of Dwyane Wade’s career at -33…The worst home loss ever by the Heat with LeBron, Wade, and Chris Bosh all playing…
The Knicks made a huge statement Thursday night. As Stephen A. Smith tweeted, “The Knicks are officially a joke NO MORE. They have put the World Champions on notice. As well as the rest of us. The Knicks are coming!” They are now front and center in the discussion of early season title contenders.
Though not quite as emphatically, Joakim Noah and the Bulls also caught the league’s attention. Noah exploded last night with career highs of 30 points and 23 rebounds as well as six assists, two steals, and two blocks as the Bulls overcame a 17-point second quarter deficit to win their fourth out of five. According to Elias, Noah is only the second player in league history to reach those levels in those five statistical categories in the same game. (The first was Golden State’s Joe Barry in 1987 in a four overtime game.)
Which team can keep its momentum rolling tonight? That will come down to boards, turnovers, and treys.
The Bulls’ greatest statistical advantage over the Knicks is in rebounding. The Bulls rank in the top seven in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate, securing 31.1% of available offensive boards (fifth) and 74.0% of defensive boards (seventh). They’re highlighted by garbage men Joakim Noah, 15th in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate, and Carlos Boozer, fourth in defensive rebounding rate. Meanwhile, the Knicks have a respectable 73.7% defensive rebounding rate, tenth in the NBA, but their offensive rebounding rate is an abysmal 23.3%, 27th in the league.
A rebounding deficiency has not been problematic for the Knicks thus far, as they have the best record in the East despite averaging 3.9 fewer rebounds than their opponent. However, it’s a point of concern tonight, as the Bulls are 8-3 when they enjoy a rebounding differential of +4 or greater.
Derrick Rose will remain out of the Bulls’ lineup until at least March, as he continues rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in the playoffs against the Sixers last season. His absence has most notably hurt the Bulls in turnovers, as they’ve plummeted from eighth in 2011-12 to 25th this season in turnover rate. Tonight they’ll face a Knicks team that commits only about 10.5 turnovers per 100 plays, the best rate in the league. Kirk Hinrich must elevate his level of play for Chicago, as his 20.3% turnover rate won’t cut it against the Knicks, who are 14-1 this season when they win the turnover battle.
From Elias: On Thursday the Knicks became only the second team ever to attempt at least 40 three-pointers in consecutive games, joining the 1995-96 Mavericks (who actually had three straight games with 40+ three-point attempts). The Knicks lead the NBA in three-point attempts (534) and makes (218) and are third in three-point % (40.8%), so their “bombs away” formula has been successful so far this season. The Knicks must remain hot from downtown tonight to offset the Bulls’ interior defense. Noah, Boozer, and Taj Gibson all rank in the top nine in the league with defensive ratings of 97.3, 97.9, and 98.0, respectively (estimates of points allowed per 100 possessions).