NEW YORK — When the Bulls take the court at Madison Square Garden on Sunday they won’t be taking the Knicks lightly, despite New York having been eliminated from playoff contention less than 24 hours ago.
“I think for us it’s about putting in all the necessary things that are into winning into the game,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the team’s shootaround at the Garden. “And that doesn’t change regardless of who you’re playing against. We know that they’re good and we don’t want to lose any of our edge. We have to make good winning plays through the course of the game.”
These games have extra significance since the Bulls are still trying to lock up third place in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Raptors are a game behind Chicago with a 3:30 ET matchup with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, so it puts added pressure for the Bulls to keep their 10-game winning streak going.
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Thibodeau, however, is just focusing on his squad playing at its best.
“The important thing for us is to play well,” he said. “To not skip steps. To not think about the third seed. Just concern yourself with the process of getting ready to play. Know your opponent well. Concentrate on improvement. Take it step by step.
“If you’re doing the right things and your making enough winning plays the results will take care of themselves.”
Bulls Prepare to Stop Carmelo
The Knicks may be out of the playoffs, but that does not make stopping Carmelo Anthony any easier. The New York superstar is averaging 25.7 points per game in his last 10 contests and against the Bulls this season, he’s averaging 24.3 points.
“It’s just his different skill set because he can score so many different ways,” Thibodeau said about Anthony. “We know he can hurt you a lot of different ways. He can score the ball very easily and it doesn’t take him very much to get him going.”
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Bulls forward Jimmy Butler knows it’s not easy to shut him down.
“He’s tough to guard, I’m not gonna lie about that,” he said. “But defense is all about effort. Just to crowd his space and make it frustrating for him.”
Chicago looks for third win of year over New York
The Bulls will look too take three out of four meetings with the Knicks this season when they battle on Sunday. The Bulls won the last matchup back on March 2, as well as Chicago’s home opener on October 31.
Sunday kicks off the final stretch of regular season games for the Bulls before the playoffs begin. After Sunday’s game in New York, they will return to Chicago to play the Orlando Magic on Monday and then finish off the season in Charlotte against the Bobcats on Wednesday.