A couple of struggling teams — the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Chicago Bulls — will meet up on Wednesday, following each of their Martin Luther King Jr Day contests. The Bulls sit in 10th in the Eastern Conference, while the Timberwolves are 13th in the West. If neither team gets their act together soon with the All-Star break coming up, each team’s playoff hopes may be shot.
The Timberwolves head into Wednesday’s matchup mostly healthy, but they won just three of their first 10 games in January. Centerpiece Karl-Anthony Towns missing time earlier this month certainly hasn’t helped their cause. The Wolves went 5-10 in Towns’ absence but also lost the first two contests since his return.
Chicago heads into the matchup a little banged up. Wendell Carter Jr. is scheduled to miss four to six weeks with an ankle injury. Otto Porter Jr. is due to return around the All-Star break. He’s been out since early November with a left foot injury. Daniel Gafford and Max Strus are also on the injury report.
Andrew Wiggins has seemingly found himself of late and is having his best season since entering the NBA. Wiggins is averaging over 22 points, 3.5 assists, and five boards. He seems to compliment Towns well, just not quite well enough according to their record. Towns getting back into rhythm may turn that around.
Outside of Towns and Wiggins, the Wolves just don’t have many options for scoring. Robert Covington can only do so much for the dynamic duo, and Minnesota just dealt away veteran guard Jeff Teague. With Towns back and the Bulls’ Carter banged up, the Timberwolves should match up well in this game.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine came to town via trade from Minnesota in the infamous Jimmy Butler deal. Since that time, and when healthy, LaVine has seemingly tried to win the minds of Bulls fans over, not wanting anyone to think the trade was a loss. At times, LaVine has butted heads with head coach Jim Boylen this season, but his play on the court is still tenacious.
An issue for the Bulls has been players like Lauri Markkanen not living up to his full potential. Even with the team’s injuries, Markkanen just hasn’t stepped up in the way that could change a team’s record and season. He’s the team’s second-highest scorer behind LaVine’s 25, but he only puts up 15 per game, a number the Bulls need to go up. We will see if Markkanen and the Bulls can get it going at home in the United Center on Wednesday. Now is the time for them to get back on track. Towns and the Wolves look to derail that, and Towns certainly knows how to wreck their gameplan. Tip-off is set for 8 pm ET.