MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Chicago Bulls (8-2) at Minnesota Timberwolves (3-6)
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 7:00pm CST/8:00 EST
TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus
Nat’l TV: NBA TV
Radio: ESPN 1000
Announcers: Neil Funk, Stacey King
Line: Bulls by 6.5
Injury Report/Inactives: CHICAGO — PG C.J. Watson (Elbow, Game Time Decision), SG Ricard Hamilton (Hamstring, Day-to-Day)
MINNESOTA — PF Anthony Tolliver (Day-to-Day)
Key Matchup: Derrick Rose vs. Ricky Rubio
Last Game: Bulls beat Pistons 92-68, Timberwolves lost to Raptors 97-87
Last Meeting: March 30, 2011 — Bulls 108, Timberwolves 91
Series History (Since 2002-03): Timberwolves lead series 10-8
Last Minute Preview: Unlike last year, this matchup with the Timberwolves will prove to be one of the more interesting inter-conference games for the Bulls. This isn’t your grandma’s Timberwolves team but that being said, it’s also not the one that almost made it to the NBA Finals half a decade ago.
The biggest story out of Minnesota is obviously Ricky Rubio. The Spanish stud has electrified the NBA by doing — mediocre things. Yes he is capable of amazing no-look passes that are going to become a thing thanks to him, but the Wolves are still 3-6, albeit the most hyped 306 ball club in basketball.
They don’t stand a chance against the Bulls and that’s putting it nicely. Chicago is a championship contender and the Wolves are at best a 9 or 10 team in the West. They do have weapons and you still shouldn’t sleep on them. We’ve seen what happens when Chicago sleeps on team (see: Saturday’s Hawks game).
Kevin Love is a rebounding machine and although he plays a different position than Joakim Noah the two will be hazily compared based on their skills. Love lost 20 pounds in the offseason and his game has greatly benefited from him being more slippery down low. Chicago will have to watch him there as Rubio is making a thing of gliding the ball down court and flinging it between defenders to Love in the paint.
Rubio’s downfall is his defense, he can’t play it. He’s a small guy and when paired against Derrick Rose (prep yourself for the SportsCenter sweet tooth highlight of that math cup up), Rose will burn him. Ronnie Brewer will Rubio hell as well given the substantial height advantage.
The Bulls should roll through this game like they did against the Pistons but don’t be surprised if the Wolves make a run at winning this thing. They took the Heat and the Thunder to the wire and pounded the Spurs, all games inside the Target Center.
It’s also College Night in Minneapolis which means college students get in for a Lincoln. This creates a massive college basketball like atmosphere inside the Target Center which the Wolves feed off of. But the Bulls own the best building in basketball back home in downtown Chicago which means the noise level in Minneapolis (can’t believe I’m actually saying that again) won’t be a factor at all.
Neither will the Wolves.
Prediction: Bulls 106, Wolves 99