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Game Thread #55: Wolves vs Bulls

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The Wolves host a Sunday matinee game against the Chicago Bulls

Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wolves (20-34) vs Bulls (26-28)

2:30 CST FS North

Target Center

The Wolves come into today’s game having lost five of their last six games, the most recent of which was a disheartening performance against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the last time the Wolves played the Bulls, the Timberwolves rallied after facing a large first quarter deficit and eventually won the game. That victory became the supposed “turning point” towards relative success after the Wolves had been going through an earlier rough patch.

Hopefully a similar even happens today, as the Wolves certainly need a win, as the recent losing streak combined with Zach LaVine’s terrible injury news has certainly left the team and its fans in poor spirits.

The Bulls, for their own part, are not having a great season. Although many predicted a team-implosion due to the contrasting personalities that the Bulls brought in over the off-season, it is hard to believe that anyone expected things to get this bad.

To recap, in this season so far:

  • Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler called out their teammates, especially the younger ones for not giving their all every night
  • Had Rajon Rondo respond by saying that the veterans he played with on the Celtics would never do that
  • Rajon Rondo essentially has been glued to the bench as for some reason a lineup of Jimmy Butler, Dwayne Wade, and Rajon Rondo was having spacing issues. Who would have guessed?
  • Disappointing seasons from Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis
  • Traded for Michael Carter-Williams, another non-shooter
  • Had a story leaked about Jimmy Butler’s contract negotiations that reflected rather poorly on the Bulls’ front office
  • Rumors about trading Jimmy Butler
  • Rumors about trading for Carmelo Anthony
  • Multiple reports about players claiming there was a “snitch” on the Bulls’ coaching staff that would pass along information to the Bulls’ front office

That’s just what I can remember, I’m sure there have been other events as well. If it were not for the Knicks basically running their franchise into the ground, the Bulls would be leading the pack for the most mismanaged franchise in the NBA.

However, they are still winning Basketball games and the Bulls currently hold the 7th seed in the East, with a one-game lead over the Detroit Pistons.

Jimmy Butler is probably having his best season of his career, averaging 24.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game. His advanced statistics are astounding, with .238 WS/48, 6.4 BPM, and 3.8 VORP. He is really damn good at Basketball.

Today, the Bulls will be playing their 6th straight road game. Jimmy Butler will be questionable today due to a heel injury, as he returned from injury Friday vs the Suns and played 30 minutes. If Butler doesn’t play, the Wolves will have no excuse if they do not win this game. Dwyane Wade will also be uncertain today, as he is dealing with wrist injuries and had to ice both wrists following the game against the Suns.

Starting Lineups

Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio

Andrew Wiggins

Brandon Rush

Gorgui Dieng

Karl Anthony-Towns

Bulls (Barring Injuries)

Jerian Grant

Dwayne Wade

Jimmy Butler

Taj Gibson

Robin Lopez

Four Factors

As we always do in game previews, let’s take a look at how the Wolves and Bulls match up using the Four Factors. Reminder, the Four Factors are effective field goal percentage (eFG%), turnover percentage (TOV%), offensive rebounding percentage (ORB%), and free throw rate (FTR).

Factor / Wolves / Bulls

eFG% / 50.9% / 47.7%

TOV% / 13.2 / 12.1

ORB% / 27.0% / 28.5%

FTR / .225 / .226

The Wolves and Bulls are evenly matched as far as the four factors are concerned, as the Bulls are also a strong offensive rebounding team, which is usually where the Wolves have an advantage.

Prediction Wolves 102-90

If Butler doesn’t play, which is my guess considering he re-injured his heel and had to come out of the game against the Suns, then the Wolves should win today. It’s also a fair guess that Thibodeau would like to sweep the season series against the Bulls.

This will serve as the game thread.

Enjoy the game everyone.