[Thanks to Will for today's game preview. Pau Gasol is out with the Gritrovirus (Hinrich is patient zero) -yfbb]
Although the results of Derrick Rose's knee procedure will be the story of the day, the Bulls host the Timberwolves tonight at the United Center.
The T-Wolves are currently in a race with the Lakers and Knicks to end up with the worst record in the NBA and at the trade deadline last week they took a page out of the Bulls playbook and made a personnel move based solely on Basketball Decisions by trading away Thad Young for All-Time T-Wolves great and future Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett.
A cursory visit over to fellow SB Nation Blog Canis Hoopus revealed general good feelings in regards to Garnett's return, but that was chalked up more to nostalgia and the expectations that Garnett's return would have more impact on ticket and jersey sales than on the actual court. It was also reported that Garnett and Flip Saunders have hopes of putting together an investment group to potentially buy a partial stake in the T-Wolves franchise. So that shines some light on what was otherwise perhaps the most odd trade this year.
Though Garnett's return won't translate to a whole lot of production on the court, some surmise he can impact a relatively young team by teaching them how to compete and become mentally tough. I think at minimum he can teach them where the tastiest parts of Joakim Noah are at. But enough about Old Man Garnett.
The T-Wolves are coming in looking to build on the momentum of their blowout victory over the Wizards and the Bulls are looking to turn things around in the wake of Rose's injury and a flat performance in a loss against the Hornets Wednesday night.
The last time these two teams met, the Bulls eeked out a 1pt victory without the services of Rose. Unfortunately the fates have seen to it that the Bulls will be without Rose again. The T-Wolves are also shorthanded (Bennett, Muhammad, and Hummel) though their injuries do not have as big of an impact as the absence of Rose.
I'm looking for the Bulls bench to be a key factor in this game with the improved play of Snell and Gibson and Mirotic providing solid production. The T-Wolves no longer have Brewer and Williams on the team, leaving them with Dieng, Neal, and Lavine as their key contributors off the bench.
Even without Rose, the Bulls starting 5 match-up well with the T-Wolves, as Rubio has underwhelmed so far in the NBA, Garnett is limited at this point in his career, and Pekovic is not known as a great defender despite his physical size. Noah can hopefully get back into Point Center mode and continue to be active on the glass. Martin has the ability to score the ball (10-15 FG for 28pts in his last game) and Wiggins will most likely be the ROY, but I expect Butler and Dunleavy to swap assignments tonight and keep them in check.
Though the Bulls have struggled at Home this year, especially against sub .500 teams, I'm hoping they can play inspired ball, handle business, and come out with a win.
The Wolves projected Starting 5: Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, Garnett, and Pekovic.
The Bulls projected Starting 5: Brooks, Butler, Dunleavy, Gibson, Noah.
Game Time is 7:00 pm on WPWR