Scouting Report: Wolves at Bulls
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (3-1) vs. Chicago Bulls (2-2) – 7 PM United Center
Where to Watch: No TV
Where to Listen: No radio
While the Bulls will be missing their star player on Friday, the Timberwolves will come into town lacking not one, but two of theirs.
News broke Wednesday of Kevin Love’s broken right hand, and he will miss 6-8 weeks of action. Tonight’s game at the United Center will be the first look fans can get at the Timberwolves rotation that will be playing together for the first month of the regular season without their cornerstone.
Last year, when Rubio and Love were absent, the team struggled. But this is a new year with an overhauled roster, and the team insists that there are players who care and will be looking to prove themselves during this Love-less period.
The Wolves have three more exhibitions before the regular season opener Nov. 2 against Sacramento, and that gives them a chance to see which combinations work well together in Love’s absence. That process begins tonight, and there is a possibility of seeing Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham sharing time at the 4 against Chicago’s Carlos Boozer. Andrei Kirilenko could also shift to the 4, and Lou Amundson is an option that brings energy off the bench.
Chicago will be seeking revenge after Minnesota already defeated them this preseason (82-75) on October 13. This time, however, starters Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng are expected to play, and the Chicago starting rotation will be much tougher as a result.
Last Time Out
It was only a few days ago that Minnesota defeated Chicago 82-75 at Target Center on Oct. 13. While Chicago had Derrick Rose, Deng, and Hamilton all absent from their lineup, they still gave the Timberwolves a challenge as the game was tight until the fourth quarter.
Nikola Pekovic had a dominating performance down low, racking up 16 points and 17 rebounds. Alexey Shved poured in 15 off the bench—12 of which were in the first half.
Chicago was led by Kirk Hinrich (15 points) and Joakim Noah (14), and struggled to execute their offense; the Bulls shot 23% from the three-point line and gave up 21 points off of 23 turnovers.
Key Matchup: Brandon Roy and Rip Hamilton
All throughout the preseason, one prominent storyline has been Brandon Roy’s progress in getting back into NBA shape. This will be a true test for him, as Rip Hamilton is known as one of the shiftiest, most active guards in the league. He is constantly worming his way around screens and sets, looking for any chance to get an opening. If Roy can stick with Hamilton and defend him, he will have passed his first true test in terms of defensive capability.
|Tonight's Projected Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Kirk Hinrich|
|SG||Brandon Roy||Rip Hamilton|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Luol Deng|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Carlos Boozer|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Joakim Noah|