Bulls at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
No Local Television
The Bulls come in on the second night of a back to back after losing in Denver last night, and decimated by injury. The latest is a knee injury suffered by star shooting guard Jimmy Butler last night, which follows on injuries to big men Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Nikola Mirotic. It leaves the Bulls very thin throughout the lineup, and with the Wolves on two days rest following their stirring victory over the Clippers on Wednesday, they have a real chance to put together two wins in a row for the first time since mid-December.
Things have gotten so bad for the Bulls up front that they started someone named Cameron Bairstow at center last night. Bairstow is likely only familiar to our Australian fans, as he hails from Brisbane, and was the Bulls' second round draft pick in 2014.
The Wolves got one of their biggest wins of the year against the Bulls early in the season in Chicago, when they staged a furious comeback and wound up winning in overtime, outscoring the Bulls 9-0 in the extra period behind a dominant stretch from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nemanja Bjelica was huge in that game, going for 17-11-5 in easily his best performance, and Andrew Wiggins went for 31.
The good news for the Bulls is that Derrick Rose is beginning to look more like his old self, posting 20 or more points in six of their last nine, including 30 last night in a losing effort. Still, the Bulls have struggled to score all season, with the 25th rated offense in the league, and not having Butler or, it appears, Gasol doesn't help. One thing the Wolves will have to do is keep the Bulls off the offensive glass, where they get a lot of their points; other than that, keeping control of guys like Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, and the expected back Mike Dunleavy from the three point line is key; the Bulls are 10th in the league in 3PT%, though they don't shoot nearly enough to satisfy first year head coach Fred Hoiberg I'm sure.
For the Wolves, Andrew Wiggins is coming off back to back 30 point efforts, and will look to continue his hot scoring, while Karl-Anthony Towns has to be licking his chops about facing a front line that lacks anyone over 6'9". Hopefully the Wolves are able to go to him and Gorgui Dieng in the post against the Bulls undersized defenders, which should open up everything else.
This is definitely a game that feels more than winnable for the Wolves, who need to establish some consistency in their play and (positive) results over the last part of the season. Tonight starts a three game home stand that will take the Wolves to the all-star break. After Chicago, the Pelicans and Raptors come to town on Monday and Wednesday. It's time to get something started.
LATE NOTE: Pau Gasol WILL be available tonight for the Bulls.
Our blogging buddies are over at Blog a Bull. Be excellent. They're on edge right now.
No pics, gifs, or links to illegal streams.
PS: I recommend you go find Beyonce's video that dropped today: "Formation" if you haven't already. Quite amazing.