Bulls at Knicks: 1st Round Playoff Preview?

Chicago travels to New York for a 1 pm Easter Sunday showdown, and assuming you’ve completed all your egg-hunting, the game will probably be worth your time. It almost certainly is a 1st round playoff preview.* The Knicks lead Milwaukee by 1/2 game for the 8th playoff spot. The Bucks, who have won four in a row, play the Thunder Monday and then host New York Wednesday in a pivotal game (on ESPN).

The Bulls should have reigning MVP Derrick Rose back. He’s missed nearly a month with a groin injury. He has a history of performing well at the Garden (and against the Knicks in general).

The Knicks … sigh. No Lin. No Amare. But Carmelo’s scoring more (averaging 27 over the last six) and the defense under interim coach Mike Woodson has improved (just 83 ppg in winning 10 of 13).

I’m expecting a big performance from Baron Davis today. When the two teams last met, I got a sense Davis wanted more minutes and a shot at Rose (he only played 18 minutes, as Lin was healthy). The former UCLA star turns 33 next week, and Davis has always struck me as one of those guys who goes hardest against elite opponents. Optimistically, I’ll projected 16 points and 11 assists from Davis, and the Knicks pull a mild upset, 95-93.

This one’s crucial for the Knicks, who have to travel to Chicago Tuesday (I’m expecting a 10+ point loss) and then Milwaukee Wednesday.

Schedule the rest of the way:

Bucks: vs OKC, vs. NYK, @ Detroit, vs Indiana (back-to-back), @ Wash, @ Indiana (back-to-back), vs NJ, vs Toronto, vs Philly, @ Boston [10 games, 6 vs teams currently in the playoffs, only 2 of them on the road]

Knicks: vs Chicago, @ Chicago, @ Milwaukee (back-to-back), vs Washington, vs Miami, vs Boston, @ NJ (back-to-back), @ Cleveland, @ Atlanta, vs LAC, @ Charlotte (back-to-back) [11 games, 6 vs teams currently in the playoffs, only 2 of them on the road]

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