What to Watch For: Bulls-Timberwolves


It’s been a weird week for the Chicago Bulls. After getting trounced by Charlotte on Tuesday, the Bulls bounced back on Thursday night with a win over Oklahoma City. On Saturday, the Bulls host Minnesota. Here’s a couple things to watch for on Saturday night.

On the strange scale for the Chicago Bulls in terms of their week prior to Saturday night’s match-up with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the week could probably rated no lower than an “8” on a 10-point scale.

The Bulls gave up 100 points in three quarters(!) against the Hornets, then followed that performance up with a big-time victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder at home. Not only that, it was Derrick Rose‘s 12-point fourth quarter that led the Bulls to the win over the Thunder.

ALSO AT PIPPEN AIN’T EASY: Three Bulls Takeaways From The Win Over Oklahoma City

Rose scored 29 points on the night to go along with his seven assists and five rebounds in the 104-98 win. Thursday was a confidence booster for not only Rose, but for the Bulls, as Saturday begins a four-game stretch against teams that missed the postseason last year.

Minnesota was hit hard before the season even began with the passing of Flip Saunders. Saunders passed after a tough bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During two stints with Minnesota on the sidelines, Saunders led the Timberwolves to eight playoff appearances.

There’s a lot of work to be done in Minnesota, but young stars like No. 1 picks Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins have brought a good buzz to Minneapolis in terms of the franchise’s future.

Here’s a few things to watch for on Saturday night, including who will start for the Bulls after a shakeup before Thursday night’s game.

What will the starting lineup look for the Bulls?

A key note from Thursday night was Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg mixing and matching with his starting lineup after the Charlotte debacle. Doug McDermott was given Tony Snell‘s starting spot with Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol in the Bulls front court.

The common thought would be to keep Snell in the starting five for his length and awareness on defense, but he’s been a disappointment on offense, while McDermott has flourished so far. Hoiberg has repeatedly said that there’s nothing set in terms of the starters for the Bulls, so it will be interesting to see what the rookie head coach goes with to start things out on Saturday.

Can Derrick Rose put two good performances together?

There’s no telling where the Bulls would have been on Thursday night with Derrick Rose’s big second half. The youngest MVP in league history played extremely well late against Oklahoma City. Heading into Saturday night, the key for Rose is to start stringing strong performances together. He doesn’t have to put up 29 points every single night anymore, so the key for Rose is to get to the rim frequently and get others involved.

Minnesota’s star point guard Ricky Rubio will be a fun challenge for Rose on the defensive end. Rubio’s one of the more exciting floor generals in the game today, so Saturday could be another chance for Rose to prove that he’s still among the better point guards in the NBA.

Will Bobby Portis be mixed into the rotation?

The reason why this question was asked was because Bobby Portis’ best performance since the Bulls drafted him came against Minnesota … in Las Vegas.

Portis scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Karl-Anhtony Towns — his rival big man during their year playing against each other in the Southeastern Conference — and the SummerWolves back in July.

The 22nd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft has only played a few garbage time minutes this season, but after Thursday night’s switch with the starters, Fred Hoiberg may look to integrate his energetic big man into the rotation.