More three-pointers. More free throw attempts. More free throws made. More offensive boards. Fewer turnovers. Fewer fouls.
Yet, the Bulls still managed to knock off the Knicks 93-85 in Chicago on December 8th.
How can the Knicks turn the tables tonight?
Most importantly, they’ll have Carmelo Anthony, who missed the prior meeting because of a lacerated index finger. Melo is seventh in the NBA according to our nERD player rankings, which attempt to evaluate the total contribution of a player throughout the season. Melo’s nERD score is an unbelievable 14.0, meaning that over an 82-game season, a league-average team would be expected to win about 14 games over .500 with Melo as one of its starters.
The Knicks are 17-4 when Melo plays, and surprisingly, he is shooting a higher field goal percentage and three-point percentage and scores more points per game in losses (49.4 FG%, 56.5 3P%, and 28.8 PPG) compared to wins (47.2 FG%, 43.3 3P%, and 27.8 PPG). However, Melo’s turnovers are a common denominator in those four losses. Melo averages 5.5 turnovers in losses versus only 1.9 in wins. He must take care of the ball tonight if the Knicks hope to win their 20th game of the season tonight.
On the other side, Joakim Noah has the 20th highest nERD score among all NBA players at 9.3. In Bulls’ wins, he’s averaging 15.9 points and is shooting 50.3 percent versus just 10.4 points and a 45.7 FG percentage in losses. The Knicks were able to limit him to just 10 points on 3-for-7 (42.9 percent) shooting in their earlier matchup. They’ll need similar success in shutting him down tonight.
The X Factor
How were the Bulls able to win despite Noah’s 10 points?
Carmelo Anthony dropped 22 points, including 4-for-6 shooting from downtown. He’s now averaging 17.1 points and 2.1 threes over the Bulls’ last eight games, during which Chicago is 6-2. Suffice it to say the Knicks must keep Belinelli in check tonight.