Wolves vs. Bulls Gameday
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Wolves vs. Bulls 7:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 AM
*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.
* Kevin Love (groin) - Day-to-Day
* Nikola Pekovic (hip) - Day-to-Day
* Joakim Noah (ankle) - Gametime decision
* C.J. Watson (foot) - Probable
16 days ago, the 1991 Bulls were commemorated in front of a packed United Center crowd to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first title for the franchise. As Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng gazed from the sidelines, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and John Paxson raised their championship trophy once again. Of course, the core group from that 91' Chicago squad collected six titles, dominating the 90's and placing the Bulls next to the Lakers and Celtics in the upper echelon of legendary franchises. The new cast of players in the Windy City is hoping for a special run to call their own and under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, Chicago has skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. With an 8-2 record over their last 10 games, the Bulls are surging at the right time despite a rare home loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. Chicago holds a two-game lead over Boston in the current standings and would own home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs if the season ended today.
Last Time Out
The Bulls suffered a 97-85 loss to a surprising Sixers team and dropped to 53-20 on the season. A 14-game homecourt winning streak was halted while Philadelphia maintains a firm spot at No. 8 in the East.
On Monday night, the Wolves hosted another Eastern Conference juggernaut and fell to the Celtics 85-82 without Kevin Love in the lineup.
The Numbers Game
In the first meeting on December 11, Chicago blitzed Minnesota on the fastbreak, outscoring the Wolves 22-4 and earning a 31-point victory.
Match-up to Watch
Derrick Rose vs. Wolves Backcourt
Or Rose vs. Wolves? The league's leading MVP candidate has garnered a tremendous amount of attention this season for his blinding speed, superior strength, and jaw-dropping vertical leap. Most of these attributes were detailed during his pre-draft workouts and led to Chicago selecting Rose No. 1 overall in the 2008 Draft. However, the 22-year old spent the offseason crafting a consistent perimeter jumper and added the one missing piece, making him just about unguardable in 2010-11. Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn will attempt to defend Rose but the wings and the frontcourt for the Wolves must quickly rotate when the Bulls point guard begins to penetrate the paint. On Monday, Philadelphia brought double-teams and a physical presence but Rose managed to lead all scorers with 31 points in 42 minutes. The Sixers were successful in forcing 10 turnovers from Rose and holding Chicago to just 85 points.
What to Look For
Wolves fans should enjoy the brilliance of Rose in his accent to the top of the MVP rankings. One player that is not surprised by the startling improvement from Rose is Love. The Minnesota power forward worked out with Rose during the offseason and knew he was capable of a dominant season. While Rose chases an MVP, Love is one of the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player Award and returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon. In speaking with the media, Love seemed jovial and highly optimistic about suiting up against the Bulls tonight after missing the previous three games due to a strained left groin.
Following a three-point loss to the Celtics, Minnesota has shown an ability to increase its level of play to match an elite opponent. Michael Beasley scored 28 points, grabbed 10 boards, and compiled three blocks in the loss on Monday and is starting to show that offensive swagger from the early portion of the season. Anthony Tolliver was also impressive with 15 rebounds against Boston.
The Wolves must execute on the offensive end of the floor tonight and stretch Chicago's stifling defense behind quick ball movement. The Bulls are arguably the best defensive squad in the league, holding the opposition to only 91.2 points per game under a Thiibodeau scheme that helped the Celtics capture a title in 2008.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.