Rotting In Big Apple
It's hard to see how Anthony decides to stay with the Knicks at this point and almost assuredly Coach Mike Woodson won't be back next year. The Knicks (24-35 ATS, 33-26 O/U at sportsbooks) entered February with high hopes and on a four-game winning streak. They ended it on a five-game skid and 2-11 in the month.
Woodson is supposed to be a defensive guy, but the Knicks have allowed at least 107 points in every game during the current skid. Golden State put up 126 on New York on Friday night at Madison Square Garden as the Warriors' Stephen Curry became only the second player with a 50-point game and a triple-double (which he had Friday) at MSG. When J.R. Smith, not exactly Mr. Hustle, says the Knicks' problem is a "heart" thing then you know it's rock bottom.
Anthony did his part against Golden State with 23 points, although it took him 26 shots and he made only seven, and 16 rebounds. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. had 22 off the bench but that's about it for the good news. Amare Stoudemire didn't play because it was the second of a back-to-back but should be in there Sunday. Point guard Raymond Felton has been terrible in the two games since his gun arrest early Tuesday. He managed six turnovers in only 22 minutes Friday night. Did I mention the Knicks don't own their first-round pick this year because of the Anthony trade?
In many ways the Bulls are the antithesis of the Knicks. Chicago doesn't have its superstar but continues to improve and play hard under Coach Tom Thibodeau, which is probably a reason why the Knicks reportedly want him so badly. Chicago won its third straight and eighth in the past nine Friday night, beating Dallas 100-91 in Big D. The Mavs blew a 16-point first half lead and were 6-for-25 from the field in the fourth quarter. Taj Gibson had 20 points and 15 rebounds and Jimmy Butler 19 points and seven rebounds for Chicago. New York would clearly ask for both guys in any sign-and-trade deal for Anthony this offseason. No way the Bulls give up both.
The Bulls (30-28 ATS, 23-35 O/U at sportsbooks) are last in the NBA in scoring but have reached triple digits in three straight games. They will almost always win when accomplishing that because Chicago is so good defensively. The Mavericks were held nearly 15 points below their average. Golden State was pummeled by 20 in Chicago on Wednesday and held more than 20 points below its season average.
It's possible that former King Jimmer Fredette makes his debut with Chicago in this one. He was bought out by Sacramento and expected to clear waivers and sign with the Bulls on Saturday. Chicago is one of the NBA's worst 3-point shooting teams and that's the one thing Fredette does well.
If the first two matchups are any indication, expect few points. The Bulls beat the visiting Knicks 82-81 on Halloween night as 7.5-point favorites on NBA odds. It was so long ago that Derrick Rose hit the game-winning shot, likely the highlight of his short season. It improved the Bulls to 9-1 against the Knicks since Anthony joined the team. The Knicks ended a six-game skid in the series with an 83-78 home win as 3.5-point favorites for sports bettors on Dec. 11. The Knicks gave away a 23-point lead but still pulled it out. Anthony had 30 points and 10 rebounds. No Rose, Luol Deng or Butler in that one for Chicago.
NBA free picks: We'll add the Bulls -7 and the under to our NBA picks for Sunday. Chicago has covered eight of its past nine and the Knicks are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 against teams with a winning record. The under has hit in four of the past five at home for Chicago and in both games against the Knicks.