[Thanks to Cosmis for today's game preview -ed.]
Noah is out, again (sort of a given after he didn't travel with the team to New York.)
The Bulls look to take another step on the road to a
first round exit playoff berth, and welcome four new players in Minnesota. Coming off of a home-and-home sweep of the woeful Knicks, and an even more woeful Minnesota team is just what the doctor ordered.
Most Important Bulls in the World-
I could take the easy way out and go with Derrick Rose, averaging 28.0 ppg after the All-Star break, on 65% shooting from the field (24-37). He's important. But I think I'll go with the four new guys, Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander, Flip Murray and Acie Law. I'm hearing that Warrick and Alexander will be available, while Murray and Law might not. Either way, Warrick and Murray's ability to fill in for the recently departed John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas will go a long way towards getting this team into the playoffs.
The Key to Victory-
On the T-Wolves end of the spectrum, it should all come down to stopping Al Jefferson (wouldn't trading for him be a better way to stop him?) As good as Kevin Love is (and Jonny Flynn looks to be, eventually), Al Jefferson is pretty much the only reason this team beats anyone. He's definitely not at the top of his game lately, averaging 16 and 6 since the break, on 14-22 shooting (64%), and you have to figure that he's going to have of one his trademark monster games soon enough.
Then again, this team just lost to the Wizards. Not the Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood Wizards that took a career-high from Rose to defeat, but the "new-look" Al Thornton, Josh Howard Wizards (before they even had Thornton). Let's just say I'm fairly confident that the Bulls can take this one.