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Game Preview #30: Wolves vs Bulls

Minnesota is back in action this evening playing host to old friend Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls

Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Game Info

What To Watch For

Anthony Edwards’ Composure

With Karl-Anthony Towns and Jordan McLaughlin out, and D’Angelo Russell a true game-time decision for the Minnesota Timberwolves, there will once again be a lot on Anthony Edwards’ plate. It’ll be on him to create for himself, as well as his teammates, and to take what the defense is giving him. He’s done a good job handling it the past couple of games, so tonight it will be about building on that. Getting Ant these reps is a great thing for his development long-term, and it’s been fun to see him figure out the different looks defenses are throwing at him.

It will be no easy task, likely battling with the Chicago Bulls stopper, Alex Caruso, for much of the game. Caruso will test Ant’s focus and attention to detail with the ball, but also his ability to flush out a bad play and move onto the next one. He’s going to make a bad decision here or there, and Caruso will bother him occasionally. As long as he’s able to move onto the next play quickly, he should be just fine.

Finding Enough Offense

While Edwards has handled the extra defensive attention thrown his way pretty well, Minnesota will still need someone else to step up with him in order to score enough to win. Last time out, it was Naz Reid and Austin Rivers coming up big. I would expect Reid’s offense to be a big part of the gameplan again, but who else can make some timely shots to help those guys out?

Thankfully, Chicago should help them a bit. Anytime all three of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic are on the floor, there should be plenty of opportunities to score. Those three are all pretty bad defensively, which will make it a bit easier to generate offense than it has been recently against the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Bulls do rank 10th in the NBA in defensive rating, so they cover for their defensively challenged players pretty well, but this is not a team with elite defensive personnel, is the point.

New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Attack the Rim

While the current group of available players will be at a talent shortage tonight, one way they can steal a few extra points is by getting to the free throw line. Any team that plays Vucevic big minutes is going to be vulnerable at the rim to begin with, so the mindset tonight should really be to attack the basket. Whether it’s drives from Ant and Jaylen Nowell, or finding Naz on the roll, the Wolves easiest path to offensive success tonight will be being intentional about getting to the front of the rim.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, and Chicago does have a few strong wing defenders. They rely much more on rim deterrence than rim protection. We’ve already covered Caruso, but players like Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams also provide capable perimeter defense. Getting by the initial line of defense and putting pressure on Vucevic at the rim will be vital to the Wolves’ offensive success this evening.

Injury Report

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • D’Angelo Russell: QUESTIONABLE — knee contusion
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: OUT — calf strain
  • Rudy Gobert: OUT — ankle sprain
  • Taurean Prince: OUT — right shoulder subluxation
  • Jordan McLaughlin: OUT — left calf strain

Chicago Bulls

  • Javonte Green: QUESTIONABLE — right knee soreness
  • Lonzo Ball: OUT — left knee surgery
  • Malcolm Hill: OUT — two-way contract
  • Carlik Jones: OUT — two-way contract
  • Marko Simonovic: OUT — G-League assignment
  • Dalen Terry: OUT — G-League assignment