[Thanks to wjb1942 for today's game preview. -Matt]
Everyone likes good news, right? Well, part of the good news for the Bulls is that tonight's game is the front half of a home-and-home against the NBA team with the worst record , the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just 8 and 35 on the season, 2 and 21 on the road, the Wolves have been struggling in the post-KG rebuilding era, as most expected. The other good news of late for the Bulls is that, in the absence of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich seems to have found some offense, averaging 26.7 points on 53.3% shooting over the past 3 games.
Now the bad news. For starters, the Bulls aren't very healthy right now. Lu will sit out again with the bad Achilles, and BG reportedly will be a game time decision but didn't sound too hopeful of playing tonight with that wrist sprain. Then there's C-Du's knee bruise: can't play with it, can't play without it. After giving it a go for a couple of games, Du has decided he came back too soon. Normally that wouldn't concern me much, but with the other injuries? How does A-Drain match up against the Wolves, anyway? And Joe Smith has knee issues of his own, although he is likely to play. [reportedly Joe Smith is out as well. -Matt]
Chicago is currently tied for 10th place in the East, but just a game out of the last playoff spot due to the equal mediocrity of the teams surrounding them in the standings. While the Bulls haven't exactly been lighting it up this season, they're coming off a particularly ugly four game stretch, with losses to the Grizzlies, Bobcats and Suns by an average margin of -12.7, with the lone win over the Indiana Pacers. In those four games, the Bulls shot 38.8% as a team (only 35.8% if you exclude the suddenly hot Kirk from that), while allowing their opponents to shoot 45.1%. While it's tempting to blame the offensive struggles on the injuries to Lu and BG, the Bulls have been offensively-challenged all year. In comparison, the Wolves have been hot over their last four, earning wins over Golden State, Phoenix and New Jersey, with only a 1-point loss to Boston at Boston to mar the streak.
In other words, this has got to be the worst possible time to face the Wolves. Accuscore has the Bulls with the win, based on their forecast of the Bulls shooting 45% tonight. Hey, it happened in the Indiana game, so stop your laughing. Seriously, this should be a much tougher game than the Wolves' overall record would indicate, and we're all much too aware of the Bulls' incredible ability to lose games this year. I'll be watching it and cheering the team on anyway, so here's to hoping for a big win in the last home game before a long road trip.
Blogging with the Enemy: TWolves Blog