Wolves (15-18) at Bulls (9-25)
Well, after a short break for Christmas the Wolves are back in action tonight in Chicago. After defeating Oklahoma City in their last outing, the Wolves look to stay in the win column against a team that should be happy to let Minnesota leave with the victory.
Chicago is squarely in the race for the number one overall pick in the 2019 draft, and they surely would rather end up with Zion Williamson than win this one measly late-December game. That should make tonight’s affair a smooth one, but as we all know, these Wolves love to make games just like this one very interesting.
As of now Derrick Rose’s status is still up in the air for tonight. I’d imagine he’s going to do whatever he can to play in Chicago, but who knows. If he isn’t able to play, I’ll look forward to watching Tyus run the show again tonight.
You can argue about whether his actual on-court impact matches up with the advanced analytics all you want, but it’s definitely apparent that he is a nice fit with Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins, never the most aggressive player, is much better suited to play with a pass-first type point guard who looks to set everyone else up. It’s really too bad it took Minnesota so long to find one of those... wait... nevermind.
Anyways, as much as I’m looking forward to seeing Tyus play more, I am equally dreading watching Jarred Bayless play some reserve minutes (if Rose is out).
We also will get a look at most of the Jimmy Butler trade package tonight. No, I’m not talking about Super Dario and RoCo, although they definitely will be there. I’m talking about Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen.
Thibs was famously tough on Dunn in his one year with Minnesota, but to be fair, Dunn wasn’t very good. In Chicago, Dunn has looked much better, especially since returning from injury this year. Since returning, he’s averaging 17.8 points, 6 assists, and 5.8 boards per night on a solid 53.4% from the field. This speaks nothing to Dunn’s usual heckling defense. With Zach LaVine out due to injury, keeping Dunn out of the paint and out of transition should be priority number one for the Wolves.
Lauri Markkanen is doing typical Lauri Markkanen things for Chicago this year, averaging 17.5 points while making over 40% of his threes, but also struggling as a rebounder for a big man.
Tonight seems like a standard night for the Wolves to match Karl-Anthony Towns on the opposing teams starting PF (Markkanen) and let Taj Gibson bang in the post with Robin Lopez. Gibson has shown he has real problems with stretch-4s, so Towns is probably the best matchup for Markkanen. We can also hope that this matchup would keep KAT out of foul trouble for the first time in forever.
Speaking of Towns, tonight is the perfect time to force feed him touches and get him back on track offensively. It’s been a rough past few games for KAT, but tonight is definitely a great opportunity for him to get going again.
Lastly, I just want to congratulate the Chicago Bulls on finding the only NBA coach who could make Tom Thibodeau seem mild-mannered and player-friendly. Kudos to them for that.
Wendell Carter Jr.