The Chicago Bulls pulled off one of their most improbable wins of the season on Saturday night against the Pacers, defeating the No. 2 seed in the East 87-84 at the United Center without Joakim Noah. Their prize? A back-to-back in Minnesota against the struggling Timberwolves.
For as uninspiring as the Bulls have been of late before the win over Indy, the Wolves are struggling to an even more significant degree. Minnesota has lost 12 of its last 16 games and currently boast the eighth most ping pong balls in the very underwhelming 2013 NBA Draft lottery at 24-43 overall. The Wolves did earn a victory over the Suns on Friday and will be going for back-to-back victories for the first time since December 15. The Bulls, meanwhile, will be going for back-to-back wins for the first time since March 2.
Injuries have killed what should have been a League Pass favorite in Minnesota this year, but the T-Wolves are certainly glad to have Andrei Kirilenko back. Kirilenko is back in the lineup after missing nine games with a left-calf strain and finished with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds in the victory over Phoenix. His matchup with Luol Deng will be the one to watch.
The Timberwolves are a very bad offensive team. Minnesota is 25th in offensive rating (99.3), but are league-average defensively. The Wolves' 102.8 defensive rating is 14th in the league.
The real reason to watch, of course, is to get a first-hand look at Ricky Rubio. Rubio is one of my favorite players in this league and has been rounding into shape lately after recovering from a torn ACL. Rubio is averaging 13.1 points, 7.8 assists, six rebounds and 2.8 steals per game in March. He's shooting just 39 percent from the floor.
The Bulls defeated the Wolves 87-80 in their only meeting this season on Nov. 10.
The game starts at 6 p.m. locally.