This NBA handicapper continues his stellar predictions & betting odds analysis turning his attention to the featured game of the night, as ESPN tips off its NBA season at 8:05 ET with a matchup of the Chicago Bulls and the NY Knicks.
Chicago Bulls vs. NY Knicks
One of the major stories in the NBA this year will be the presumed resurgence of the NY Knicks. After going 54-28 in the 2012-13 season, the Knicks fell flat on their face to open last year’s campaign. By late winter, the Knicks stood 21-40 under former HC Woodson. Enter legendary NBA mentor, Phil Jackson, who was hired to return the NYers to the glory years. Roughly coinciding with the arrival of Jackson, the Knicks made a playoff push that saw them finish the year on a 16-5 run. Though the final record of 37-45 was not enough to get them to the promised playoff land, hope was instilled. In the off-season, Jackson traded starting Center Chandler and PG Felton. Of equal importance was the acquisition of PG Caldron and HC Derek Fisher. The object for Jackson was to find leadership that could run his famous triangle offense. Though I have no knock on either Fisher or Calderon, the ability of surrounding pieces to operate that offense to its maximum is highly questionable. For the one-on-one NBA mentality of Carmelo, Bargnani and Amare are ill-suited to the team concept of the triangle offense. One thing of which I can be certain is that the strong defensive concepts of Jackson and the half-court style will lead to a series of low scoring games.
For the Chicago Bulls, PG Rose returns, following a pair of injury plagued seasons. The Bulls have performed admirably in his absence. Following a 45-37 season in 2012-13, the Bulls went 48-34 last season, before a 1st round playoff exit. With Rose at the controls, Chicago is projected with 55 victories, as one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference. Last year, Chicago allowed just 92 PPG, the lowest in the NBA.
With the Bulls returning virtually intact, along with their strong defensive philosophy, I expect a strong start out of the gate. With the influence of Jackson and the triangle offense, the pace will remain much slower, and until the pieces fall into place, I would not expect to see much cohesion.
Free NBA Picks: In the final analysis, Chicago and the 'under' look like a solid NBA pick for this ESPN matchup tonight!