The slumping New York Knicks travel to Chicago to face the surging Bulls at the United Center in an Eastern Conference showdown that might be a preview of a first-round playoff match-up.
The Knicks are currently the eight-seed in the playoffs after dropping their last five games, and the Bulls have the best record in the NBA as the potential No. 1 seed after winning nine of their last 10 games.
At the moment, Linsanity has been replaced by panic, as the Knicks struggle to stay afloat. Mike D'Antoni's job security is not looking good at the moment, as the Knicks desperately need to get back on track if they expect to avoid facing Chicago in the first round, or even make the playoffs as the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers remain in the hunt for the final spot.
Jeremy Lin continues to do his part. After two-straight 20-point performances, the Knicks point guard managed only 14 points against the Sixers on Sunday, but his teammates didn't exactly help pick up the slack in his five-for-18 shooting night. The Knicks shot just 41 percent against Philadelphia, and will have an even bigger challenge with a road game against the prolific Bulls.
It will be interesting to see how Lin handles guarding Derrick Rose. The reigning MVP remains a force for Chicago despite back problems. Rose sat out a stretch of games in February, but has regained his form with three 30-point efforts in the past few weeks.
The Bulls should have one of their starters back in the lineup, as Joakim Noah is expected to return.
The game tips off at 8:10 EST and will be shown on ESPN. A live stream of the game can be found here: http://www.nba.com/leaguepass/index.html
PREDICTION: All eyes will be on the Lin-Rose matchup, as the two point guards are among the most popular players in the NBA. Rose should win the scoring duel, but Lin should distribute more assists as Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are due for more of a better effort within 15 feet of the hoop. The Bulls have just three losses at home, and the Knicks have been miserable on the road. Don't expect a Knicks miracle, as the Bulls remain very focused and their defense continues to be among the best for an elite NBA team. This should be a one-sided affair unless Anthony has a hot scoring night.
PREDICTED SCORE: Bulls over Knicks, 101-90