Since the last time the Bulls played the Timberwolves things have changed for Minnesota. And not for the better. You have to feel bad for them, with Ricky Rubio in the same place as Derrick Rose with a torn ACL (although a few months ahead) and now Kevin Love breaks his hand.
(I would take a Kevin Love with a broken hand over a Carlos Boozer with his broken jumper every day of the week.)
The Bulls finally found their offense in the last preseason game against Milwaukee. Nate Robinson went off for 24 points on 7-16 shooting, starting in place of Kirk Hinrich (Robinson also added 13 assists; this is a Nate that Bulls’ fans can get on board with). Rip Hamilton even played well, scoring 23 points on 9-14 from the field and getting to the line five times.
Joakim Noah continued to have a good preseason (16 points, 7-15, 12 rebounds), while Carlos Boozer continued to do the opposite (3-9, 10 points, 10 rebounds, four turnovers).
Taj Gibson didn’t shoot well, but he still finished with seven points and eight rebounds. He recorded another negative plus/minus score and that number seems to reflect what he is now missing around him on defense (specifically Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer). And Jimmy Butler was perfect from the field! He only took one shot but…baby steps.
And the Bulls’ defense did well. Milwaukee shot 41 percent. Ersan Ilyasova was just 1-9 (the last two times the Bulls and Bucks met last season, Ilyasova averaged 23.5 points per contest).
Including tonight the Bulls have three preseason games left. That isn’t a lot of time to figure stuff out. Boozer needs to find ways to score; otherwise the Bulls are going to lose a lot of games. And in that case, if Boozer isn’t scoring, there isn’t really a reason to have him playing many minutes. At least Taj gives you defense.
Anyway, after tonight the Bulls play the Thunder and the Pacers, two very good teams that will be a great way to judge where the Bulls are. The Timberwolves are hurting right now, so the Bulls should take care of them rather easily.
As in 2010/11 Thibs has the Bulls focusing on defense. The D will come around much faster this year since there are 8 guys familiar with the system as opposed to 1 guy back in 2010/11 (Scalibrine). The offense for the Bulls will be fine, it will have a different high corer every night as they take advantage of what the opposing defense gives them. Hinrick will be orchastrating that with Nate Robinson providing the spark off the bench. The Bulls may not lead the league in wins this season but they will be a top 4 seed in the East.