After a lackluster performance against Toronto last Friday, the Wolves' preseason rolls on. But before discussing tonight's bout with the Bulls, let's cover a few points from the last game that, despite some terrible looking play at times, should keep us optimistic:
- Al Jefferson looked like his old self. He's scored 28 points on 13 for 20 shooting in only 34 minutes this preseason. Beyond stats, Al looked like his crafty self against post defenders (including help defenders) and even had a couple nice passes out of double teams against Toronto.
- The offense looked dull because part of Rambis's new system is him not calling plays. He's letting the players call plays on the floor, and was apparently happy with the pace at which Flynn is learning the offense. Moreover, Rambis has told Flynn not to run stuff he already knows, like the pick and roll, so that the team can learn the fundamentals of the offense first.
- Flynn has attempted 23 free throws in 50 minutes and Ramon Sessions has attempted 11 in 41 minutes. Combined, that's 34 attempts in 90 minutes, or .374 attempts per minute. Randy Foye and Mike Miller combined for .087 attempts per minute last season. Foye alone was was .109 attempts per minute. This isn't a great stat and the sample size for Flynn and Sessions is small, but I think it's safe to say our backcourt will be much better at getting to the line this year.
As for tonight's opponents:
After taking the Celtics to Game 7 in what may have been the greatest playoff series in NBA history, the Bulls let Ben Gordon leave via free agency and brought in Taj Gibson, James Johnson and Jannero Pargo. Johnson looked quite good in Summer League and could develop into a very versatile small forward. Even with a strong backcourt rotation of Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons, I think the Bulls will miss Gordon's scoring.
Luol Deng is coming off a lost season after sitting 33 games due to injury. Both Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas are extremely athletic frontcourt players and should challenge the Wolves' slower duo of Jefferson and Love.
I'm disappointed we'll miss the Flynn/Rose match-up since the latter will be sitting with an ankle sprain. Brad Miller did not travel with the Bulls and Wayne Ellington is likely to sit with an ankle sprain.
Who will be the starting small forward on opening day?
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