Minnesota moved to 3-6 on the season last night, in a 10-point loss to the Raptors that saw a stagnant Wolves fourth quarter offense. It was the second game of a back-to-back-to-back set and the Wolves clearly looked fatigued. It'll be interesting to see how the Wolves look in this one, especially against a Bulls team that is FAR superior to that Raptors team they faced yesterday.
Chicago currently sits at 8-2 on the year and is coming off a win yesterday versus the Pistons that saw the Bulls win 68-92. Chicago, is without a doubt one of the top teams in the League. They're a contender and are skilled at every position. With the reigning MVP as their floor general, the Bulls are a tough out--every time out! The Bulls' two losses came against the Warriors (99-91) & Atlanta (109-94).
Minnesota has taken down two top-tier teams this season: Dallas & San Antonio, those are two veteran teams that are annual contenders. Chicago has stepped into that same role these past few seasons--with the emergence of Rose & Noah, the play of Deng & the additions of Rip & Boozer. That's a formidable starting five and one that the Wolves could struggle to match up with.
Minnesota will again be without starting small forward Michael Beasley. He's recovering from a mid-foot sprain, he won't play in this one, but he could return for the Wolves' next game vs. the Hornets on Friday. J.J. made his return yesterday after missing five of the Wolves' last six games. He scored a team-high 16 points in just 17 minutes (he was limited by the team trainers, as 17 was the max minutes they allowed him to play). Hopefully he'll be able to play more tonight, especially if his performance can mirror what he did against Toronto.
For the Wolves, it'll be all about whether they have enough 'gas in the tank' after a deflating defeat at the hands of Toronto. Kevin Love had just 13 points & 14 rebounds on 19% shooting! The Raptors forced him to play more back-to-the-basket rather than scoring faceup jumpers (something he's clearly much more comfortable with). If the Wolves want to have a chance to defeat Chicago--he's going to need to have himself a 25-15 game!
The Wolves will likely trot out the same starting lineup they've used the past two games: Ridnour, Ellington, Johnson, Love & Milicic. The Bulls will likely counter with: Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer & Joakim Noah. Hamilton may not be able to go though. He didn't play vs. the Pistons yesterday with a groin injury, Ronnie Brewer got the place in his start and will, likely again, if Rip can't go.
It'll be fun to watch Rubio vs. Rose. Any time the Wolves play a team with a solid point guard, it'll be fun to see how Ricky plays against him on both sides of the ball and that's, pretty much, always going to be the case. Beyond that, Love & Boozer could be interesting. Two very different power forwards. I'm actually excited to see how Boozer plays--it's been a while since I've seen him play, I think I've literally seen just one game since he's been in a Bulls uniform!
Ultimately, Minnesota is going to have a VERY tough time pulling out a W in tonight's game. I'm not saying there's absolutely no chance, but it'll certainly be an uphill battle. A hill covered in rocks, snow and ice...Or something like that...
That's all for now, I'll have a vidoe recap/highlights of yesterday's game up soon, you can also find pictures from yesterday's game already. Thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!