Keys To The Game: Bulls vs. Knicks (11.21.21)

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The Chicago Bulls return home after a tough, yet successful West Coast road trip. The Bulls return to the United Center with a 3-2 record over their five-game West Coast swing. Now Chicago looks forward to facing off with perhaps their biggest rival in the Tom Thibodeau-led New York Knicks.

The Knicks are one of the toughest teams in the league, combining a physical defense with an unselfish offense that doesn't mind who has a big scoring night.

Chicago fell 104-103 in a nail-biting loss to the Knicks in their fifth game of the year, with a DeMar DeRozan jumper missing at the buzzer. Here's how Chicago can avenge their early season loss to the Knicks on Sunday night.

Allow No Open Shots For Struggling NY Offense

The New York Knicks still have a defense-first identity under Tom Thibodeau, but the team's offense has finally caught up. Coming into Sunday evening, the Knicks offense is just outside the top-10 in offensive efficiency.

But things have been going downhill fast for the Knicks as of late on the offensive side of the floor. Over the last five games New York ranks 27th in the league, scoring a poor 101 points per 100 possessions.

The Chicago Bulls, like New York, boasts one of the best and most active defensive units in the league. Chicago will need to stick to their defensive principles, close out hard on shooters and they will have a chance to keep the Knicks' current cold-shooting going.

Lonzo Ball guarding Monte Morris

Contain Kemba

A natural part of halting the Knicks' offense is slowing down the scoring and playmaking prowess of New York-native Kemba Walker. In the initial matchup between these two teams, Walker poured in a quiet, yet crucial, team-leading 21 points on 12 shots.

Walker's 5-6 shooting from the 3-point line sank the Bulls in the first matchup. Billy Donovan will surely have his guards ready to chase Walker off of 3-pointers this game, but Kemba's solid in-between game makes that a dangerous proposition as well.

Smaller guards with extreme quickness can still give the Bulls' stout defense some trouble, so seeing how Chicago guards Walker in the second matchup between these two teams will be of paramount importance.

Kemba Walker shooting a floater against the Indiana Pacers

Initiate More Offense In Transition

The Bulls possess one of the most dangerous offenses in the NBA because of their ability to outscore you in a halfcourt or fullcourt game.

Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have so far, put together a unit that prepares the Bulls for the slower-paced, grind-it-out, halfcourt style of the postseason while still allowing Chicago's many athletes the freedom to attack on the fastbreak, especially in conjunction with Lonzo Ball's awesome hit-ahead passes.

Chicago can beat New York by trusting their halfcourt offense, but a win will be easier to collect on Sunday night if the Bulls look for easy buckets in transition. In the first matchup, the Knicks held the Bulls to 8 fastbreak points, the Bulls averaged 14.9 points per game on the fastbreak for the season.

Derrick Jones Jr. dunk
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