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Game Preview #71: Wolves vs Bulls

The Wolves look to make it back-to-back road wins over comparable Eastern Conference foes as they take on Zach LaVine and the Bulls in Chicago.

Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves
Ant plays up to the crowd after stealing an inbounds pass, then hitting an end of quarter, buzzer beating, 32-foot bomb against the Bulls in their last matchup.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Minnesota Timberwolves lost a close contest against the referees the Boston Celtics, they take the court again. They embark on a three-game road trip, opening it up versus the Chicago Bulls, who are fresh off a buzzer-beating loss to De’Aaron Fox’s Sacramento Kings. Who will bounce back tonight?

Despite the Wolves 24-point victory over the Bulls three months ago, betting odds favor the Bulls. Let’s take a look under the hood.

Game Info

Injury Report

The Numbers

Chicago Bulls

(Since acquiring Patrick Beverley)
OFFRTG: 119.1 (5th)
DEFRTG: 111.1 (4th)
NETRTG: +8.0 (1st)

eFG%: 57.0 (6th)
FTr: .277 (11th)
TOV%: 13.8 (17th)
OREB%: 27.7 (16th)

Pace: 95.89 (30th)
FBPS: 13.0 (25th)
2nd PTS: 12.1 (21st)
PITP: 44.4 (24th)

Minnesota Timberwolves

(Since acquiring Mike Conley Jr.)
OFFRTG: 111.5 (24th)
DEFRTG: 113.9 (14th)
NETRTG: -2.4 (22nd)

eFG%: 55.4 (13th)
FTr: .244 (20th)
TOV%: 14.4 (20th)
OREB%: 25.5 (23rd)

Pace: 100.96 (10th)
FBPS: 15.3 (10th)
2nd PTS: 12.5 (19th)
PITP: 56.3 (5th)

What To Watch

Timberwolves vs. Pat Bev: Part 2

The first time Pat Bev played against the Timberwolves near the end of October, it was a 9-point Wolves win. Many of us were excited to see PB two more times this season, but after getting cut by the Lakers (and Magic), he is now with his hometown Chicago team and has just one more chance to “stick it” to his previous employer. His energy will surely be frenetic as he tries to lead a struggling Bulls team to the play-in tournament. Beverley has helped them to a 5-4 record, and though the numbers above look impressive, how much are they propped up by a 44-point victory over the Brooklyn Nets? Regardless, I’m fully expecting a night of fireworks and...

Timberwolves vs. The Referees: Part 71

The on-going war with the officials has been a common issue not just for Minnesota, but all teams in the league. Tensions seem to be at an an all-time high while fuses of refs seem to be an an all-time low. Today, the Wolves and Bulls draw Jacyn Goble. No, not John Goble, but his brother. You know, this guy.

Unlike Mike Conley, the Wolves as a whole aren’t model citizens for how to win over the Zebras. I hope Anthony Edwards (and Pat Bev) is mindful of his vocabulary tonight and values the “integrity of the game.” It’s an emotionless game of basketball after all.

Battle of Styles

Both teams have very different styles of play. Chicago leans heavily on a slow, grinding pace which ranks dead last. They work the ball around and hunt for mismatches, usually getting the ball to DeMar Derozan or our friend Zach LaVine (Both sporting USG% of over 27%). Minnesota plays a much more team-oriented style of basketball (S/O Devin Booker), moving the ball around quickly as evidenced by their top 10 ranking in pace. They also push the ball in transition and force the action in the paint, contrary to their opponent, though the Bulls still have a better free throw rate. Chicago may have better ranks among the Four Factors, but the Wolves have some of their own advantages as well.


  • The referees and players sit-down for a pre-game discussion where they talk about international politics and social justice issues, finding common ground despite their fundamental differences as people.
  • I still scream expletives about a certain official by the end of the game.
  • After getting busted up all game, Pat Bev still asks for a post-game jersey swap with Ant. PB gloats about how he held Ant to just 50 points on 30 field goal attempts.
  • Wolves win, 115-109.