[Thanks to bleeinternets for today's game preview. Turns out I'm going to the game too! I also thought this would be a way more fun experience when they were purchased... -yfbb]
When the Bulls schedule came out last year I had this game circled on the calendar. I thought it'd be fun to go out on a Monday night, catch the League Pass mainstay Minnesota Timberwolves and a matchup of Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio. Welp, there's no Rose, Rubio still can't shoot, and it's gonna be below zero outside. Awesome!
The Bulls have won 10 of their last 13 and with their win over the Bobcats on Saturday climbed over .500 for the first time since January 22 (SO LONG AGO!) when they beat Luol Deng's Cleveland Cavaliers (still weird to think about). If the playoffs started today, not only would everyone be surprised since they're not supposed to start until April, but the Bulls would also have the 5th seed and be in a first round matchup against the Rudy Gay-less Toronto Raptors. Probably wouldn't have predicted that on opening night.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves enter the game at 21-22, good for 11th in the Mighty Western Conference and 5 games behind Dallas for the final playoff spot. The Wolves are second in the league in points scored per game, but 22nd in points allowed.
Here are some things to look for tonight:
- IT'S GONNA BE COLD. But the game will be played indoors in a temperature controlled environment, so relax
- Oh look it's Kevin Love! Remember those old Bulls commercials with Norm Van Lier in the barber shop talking about all the awesome players who would come and play against us? KEVIN GARNETT! KOBE BRYANT! Well tonight it's ALL STAR Starter (and future Bull?????) Kevin Love! Fun fact: There have only been five games this season in which Love has NOT recorded a double-double. Dude is a machine. (It's also not his fault the Wolves are mediocre, per Ziller)
- The Wolves will probably start the same lineup that they have most of the season, as there has not been much shifting: Love - Nikola Pekovic (posting career highs in PPG and RPG) - Corey Brewer - Kevin Martin (averaging just under 20 ppg) - Ricky Rubio.
- The SBNation sister site devoted to the Timberwolves is Canis Hoopus, and they note that Martin, Rubio, and Love are all playing with some injuries, but it doesn't get any easier as the game against the Bulls is the first of four for MIN this week.
- I didn't do it: The last game preview I wrote was for the November 22 game at Portland, and we all know what happened there. A couple of hours ago KC Johnson comes down with this tweet saying that Joakim Noah is ill and is questionable for tonight. Hopefully the club doesn't give Jo a spinal tap or anything. Whatever happens, I pre-emptively didn't do it. (Hinrich is out for sure, but like you know whatever)
- DJ Augustin is doing his best D-Rose. Ricky "Rubio" O'Donnell wrote earlier today about DJ's turnaround season.
- Symmetry or something: Coming into tonight, the Bulls score the same number of points per game as they allow (92.9) which probably seems right for a team hovering around .500. As for the Timberwolves, they rank 8th in the NBA in both offensive rating and defensive rating. That's kind of fun, isn't it? Well, I thought so.
- Before the game tonight, Fred Tedeschi will receive the 2012-13 Trainer of the Year award. Just going to leave that there.
- Note to self: When at the game tonight, check the team store for $5 Marquis Teague shirtseys
- One more thing from Canis Hoopus: with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce being honored in Boston last night, I wanted to dig through and see how Garnett was greeted when he first returned to Minnesota after being traded in 2007, and he got a standing ovation.
I'll be at the game tonight. Maybe it'll be fun, I dunno. At the very least the commute to and from the game will be cold. Everything else is up to the Basketball Gods. If you're feeling unhappy tonight just remember: Change your face. Be happy. Enjoy.