4-1. Look at it:
Wile puts it best:
While things will no doubt change... right now...
The Wolves are 4-1, have a great coach, are successfully running the Princeton offense, and have a deep team.
The Lakers are 1-4, fired their coach, bottomed out trying unsuccessfully to run the Princeton offense, and have zero depth.
We've always been the anti-Lakers. But this year ... that's good!!
Don't worry about the soft schedule, getting teams on the tail end of their back-to-back, not getting Indy with Granger, none of that. These things happen to each and every team in the league, and for the better part of the last decade, they have happened to the Minnesota Timberwolves...who responded by losing. This year, so far so good. Fingers crossed.
The last time the Wolves were above .500 after 5 games was way back in 2006, when they went 3-2. The last time they were 4-1 was in 2001, when they went 6-0 to start the season.
Today the Wolves are headed to Chicago on their own tail end of a back-to-back. It could get rough. However, the last time they played B2B, they completed a near-historic comeback victory.
The Bulls are without Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer is being a Dookie, and Luol Deng has a sprained finger.
Chicago enters the game with a 3-2 record and they are winning with their defense, which has the 2nd best Drtg in the league. They force a lot of turnovers (16.7%), clean up the defensive glass (75.8%), and they hold teams to an ok eFG (.469). All of this is a long way to say they are coached by Thibs and they play Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson.
What I will be looking for in tonight's game:
- Can Pek bully Noah? The Bulls play good defense, but it's still pretty hard to keep the ball out of the post on Pek. Can he get 3-4 early buckets to demand weak side help, which should open up the perimeter with the Wolves' outstanding ball movement? Can he pass it out of the post when the help comes?
- Can Alexy Shved continue his solid play? Can the bench group of Shved, Greg Stiemsma, Chase Budinger, and Dante Cunningham continue to tear up opposing benches? The Bulls have a decent bench and this game should be the biggest bench test of the year for the Wolves.
- Can the Wolves keep Chicago off the free throw line? The Bulls have a .252 ft/fg rate. It's good for 6th in the league. If the Wolves can win the free throw battle and hold their own on the defensive glass, they should be in good shape, at least in terms of what Chicago can do offensively.
- What crazy little thing will Andrei Kirilenko do to change the tempo of the game? Will it be a tipped pass that nobody with non-Gumby arms could have gotten to? Will it be a pump fake into a nifty assist that gets Bud rolling? Will it be a discreet grab-of-the-jersey to keep Deng from getting a key offensive rebound? AK is an NBA version of a movie easter egg. You just have to look hard enough to find something completely awesome.