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Bulls, Knicks desperate for win on Wednesday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/11/2013  at  6:20:00 AM
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Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: New York -3, Total: 184

Two injury-riddled and slumping teams square off Wednesday at Madison Square Garden when the Knicks host the Bulls.

New York is 2-11 SU (3-10 ATS) in its past 13 games, dropping the past two in miserable fashion with a 41-point home loss Sunday to the Celtics before falling 109-94 on Tuesday in Cleveland. Chicago is 2-8 SU (3-7 ATS) in its past 10 games, and has also lost two straight, including a 78-74 home defeat to the lowly Bucks on Tuesday. These two teams met on Oct. 31 when the Bulls won 82-81 on a game-winning floater by PG Derrick Rose, who is now out for the season. Chicago has dominated this series in the past three seasons with an 8-1 SU mark, but is just 5-4 ATS. In this same timeframe, the Bulls are 16-5 ATS (76%) off an upset loss as a home favorite. However, New York is 47-26 ATS (64%) since 1996 after a game in which it allowed an opponent to shoot 55% FG or better. Both clubs are dealing with a slew of injuries to key players. Chicago is already without Rose and SF Jimmy Butler (toe), and both SF Luol Deng (Achilles) and C Joakim Noah (thigh) are questionable for Wednesday's game. The Knicks continue to miss the inside presence of C Tyson Chandler (broken fibula) who had 19 rebounds against the Bulls on Halloween, and will likely be without the services of starting PG Raymond Felton (hamstring).

Which struggling team will pick up the confidence-boosting victory here? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been profitable so far this season with a 53% ATS record (51-46-1) in featured games, while the five experts are at 54% ATS (55-47-1) on Best Bets since Nov. 12. During this timeframe, StatFox Zach has a stellar 67% ATS mark (14-7), StatFox Scott is a robust 61% ATS (11-7-1) and StatFox Gary carries a strong 55% ATS record (11-9).

The Bulls have lost two straight games since SF Luol Deng (19.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.2 APG) got injured, and have scored a meager 74.5 PPG on 35.3% FG without him. Chicago is one of the toughest rebounding teams in the league, averaging 46.2 per game (4th in NBA), but without somebody who can put the ball in the hoop, it will be tough for them to win. PF Taj Gibson (12.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) has stepped it up in Deng’s absence, averaging 15.5 PPG and 9.5 RPG over the past two games, but the Bulls will need continued production from PF Carlos Boozer (15.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG) who produced 21 points and 12 rebounds on Tuesday. Boozer has averaged a double-double (16.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG) in 27 career games versus the Knicks, scoring 14 points (5-of-7 FG) with seven rebounds in the Oct. 31 win. PG Kirk Hinrich (8.2 PPG, 5.2 APG) has done a decent job managing the offense without Derrick Rose, but Hinrich is in a terrible shooting funk in the past two games, making just 1-of-20 shots, including 0-for-9 on two-point FG tries. SF Mike Dunleavy (9.6 PPG, 43% threes) has provided the long-range shooting for Chicago with 16.5 PPG on 50% FG (44% threes) over the past four games. But without their stars in the lineup, the Bulls bench has been very thin and could have a tough time scoring enough points to beat New York.

The Knicks are scoring 99.3 PPG (15th in NBA), but are shooting just 43.2% from the floor (23rd in league). In the loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday, SF Carmelo Anthony (25.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG) played well with 29 points (12-of-19 FG) and eight rebounds, but as has been the case all season, he had little help from the rest of the lineup. Anthony shot poorly (8-of-24 FG) in the Oct. 31 meeting, but still finished with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists and six steals and two blocks in that narrow loss. For his career against the Bulls, he has averaged 27.0 PPG (43% FG, 29% threes) and 6.8 RPG. In Tuesday's loss, PF Andrea Bargnani (14.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG) scored 11 points on a dreadful 5-of-17 FG and grabbed a meager three rebounds for the second straight game. The four starters outside of Anthony combined for just 21 points on 10-of-32 FG in the game. New York's defense has also been terrible all season, surrendering 103.9 PPG (3rd-worst in NBA) on 46.2% FG (6th-worst in league), which is a huge drop-off from last season when Mike Woodson's team allowed only 95.7 PPG (7th-best in NBA). With PG Raymond Felton doubtful to play, PG Pablo Prigioni (3.5 PPG, 3.0 APG) figures to play a much bigger role against the Bulls. He played well in the Cavaliers game with six points, nine assists and just one turnover in 27 minutes. He is one of the only Knicks players who move the ball well, and he could potentially solve their issues with ball movement.

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