The NBA preseason schedule rolls on for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will close out their five-game exhibition with a trip to the Windy City to face off with old friend Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls.
Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (4-0) vs. Chicago Bulls (1-3)
When: Thursday, October 19th at 7:00 PM CT
Where: United Center
TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Kevin Lynch, Katie Storm)
Radio: Wolves Radio App
Line: Wolves +1.5 | Total: 224.5
quick stop in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/yYdpZqVkJ4— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 18, 2023
As of 6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday
- Jaylen Clark (right achilles tendon rupture rehab)
- Mike Conley (illness)
- Jaden McDaniels (left calf strain)
- Karl-Anthony Towns (right patella tendinopathy)
- Nothing to report at this time
What to Watch For
The Return of the Main Crew
After an atypical starting lineup of Wendell Moore Jr.-Matt Ryan-Josh Minott-Troy Brown Jr.-Luka Garza took the floor on Tuesday night, it expected the Timberwolves core pieces will play on Thursday at United Center.
The final preseason game can act as a tune up for the typical starting five to complete any fine-tuning before the regular season tips off next Wednesday against the Raptors.
As always, the pairing of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert will have our eyes, as will Shake Milton after impressing earlier this month.
Shake Milton is going to be your favorite Wolf’s favorite Wolf pic.twitter.com/2RmRtg75Ga— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) October 15, 2023
Naz Reid put up 22 points in Minnesota’s preseason game with the New York Knicks on Oct. 14, placing ear-to-ear grins for all Timberwolves fans tuning in. In the same game, Karl-Anthony Towns shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, forming a high-octane offensive attack at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Watching those two play — specifically Reid at power forward seeing Towns space the floor — will have our attention all night long.
Those Fighting for a Rotation Spot
Luka Garza and Troy Brown Jr. showed out on Tuesday night against Maccabi Ra’anana, with Garza finishing with 30 points and Brown Jr. adding 13 points. Stacking together another good performance on Thursday would add to the idea that these two could be contributors in 2023-24.
Head Coach Chris Finch applauded Garza’s efforts to get in “elite shape,” and also cemented the idea that he’s an NBA player.
The former National Player of the Year with the Iowa Hawkeyes has repeatedly flexed his scoring chops, and now seems to be forcing Minnesota’s staff to give him additional opportunity.
"One thing we really love about him is he sets a great tone for all the other young guys. ... This summer he really committed to getting himself in absolute elite shape." #Timberwolves coach Chris Finch talks about emergency big Luka Garza, who scored 30 points Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/4JXzbCSwQI— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) October 18, 2023
The Young Wolves Making a Push for Opportunity
Other than those two making their argument for a fringe-rotation spot, the Young Wolves saw plenty of run on Tuesday night.
Finch was likely seeing what the end of his bench could do with their minutes on an NBA floor, as Leonard Miller, Josh Minott, Matt Ryan, Wendell Moore Jr. and others played no less than 25 minutes on Tuesday night. They could very well see more heavy minutes against the Bulls, although it’s unknown how Finch will structure the rotation in the final preseason game.
Minott saw potentially his most game action at Target Center, playing 32 minutes and scoring 23 points. The Timberwolves staff has talked openly about getting Minott more involved in his second season, and his performance on Tuesday backs up his desire to find minutes in year two.
Miller also flashed scoring ability, scoring 22 points in his extended run.
How the hell did 32 players get drafted ahead of Leonard Miller?pic.twitter.com/pvg7rbd5CB— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) October 18, 2023
With a few standout performances, it will be interesting to see if Finch and Co. feel like they’ve seen enough of what Miller and Minott can do or if they’ll again give them extended play on Thursday night.
Daishen Nix, Tyrese Martin and Trevor Keels should continue to see heavy minutes in an effort to get additional film for roster-finalizing.
Wendell Moore Jr. Finding His Offense
The Duke University standout will have another chance to show some level of offense on Thursday, perhaps one of only a handful of opportunities left for the No. 26 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on the Timberwolves. He scored seven points on 3-for-8 shooting on Tuesday, missing his two attempts from beyond the arc.
His defense remains good, as it’s consistently been, but his offensive struggles have limited his opportunities in Minneapolis. The preseason finale against Chicago should give Moore Jr. another chance to develop some kind of scoring rhythm and prove he can keep the team’s offense flowing with him on the court.