Minnesota remains tied atop the Western Conference standings and will look to slow down the Bulls' offensive attack. Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories as the roster has been decimated by injuries.
Both teams are among the NBA’s best at protecting the interior. Chicago leads the league with only 44.2 points in the paint allowed per game. The Timberwolves aren’t far behind, giving up just 45.6 points in the paint per game.
The staunch interior defense can be accredited to center Rudy Gobert, who roams the middle of the defense, averaging 2.1 blocks per contest. On the outside, the Wolves are littered with guards who excel at perimeter defense.
Minnesota took down the Houston Rockets 111-90 on Sunday evening to improve to 35-15. Led by All-Star tandem Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, 35 wins are tied for the most in franchise history through the first 50 games.
Bulls shooting guard and former Timberwolves first-round draft pick Zach LaVine is out, as he opted to have season-ending foot surgery. Despite no LaVine, the Timberwolves will still be tasked with slowing down guards Coby White and DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan has caused problems for the Timberwolves' defense in the past, including scoring 49 points and bringing down 14 rebounds to fuel the Bulls' double-overtime win over Minnesota just a year ago. Over his last five games against the Timberwolves, DeRozan has averaged 36.2 points and shot 57.4 percent from the floor.
Minnesota will lean on defensive standouts, Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, to contain the 6-time All-Star from having yet another productive performance.
With the NBA Trade Deadline approaching, the Timberwolves are aiming to take down the Bulls before a vaunted two-game stretch that contains one of each conference's best squads.
Although the performance against Chicago won't push the front office to make a trade, it's the last time Tim Connelly and co. will watch the Wolves before deciding whether they'll be bringing in reinforcements or not.
To stay in contention for the top seed in the West, Chris Finch's team must continue to play at a high level and that begins with a quality effort on the defensive end. Furthermore, adding perimeter defenders at the deadline will only positively affect Minnesota's championship hopes.