Bulls Vs. Timberwolves Preview: Can Tom Thibodeau Stop Kevin Love?

The Chicago Bulls (8-2) are seeking their second straight win during a stretch of back-to-back-to-back games, while the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-6) hope to close a similar cluster of contests with a win on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, MN.

Minnesota is only 2-4 at home so far this season, including disappointing losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies, while the Bulls have already amassed an impressive 5-2 record on the road. The T'Wolves are coming off a road loss to the Toronto Raptors and looking to win the final game of a back-to-back-to-back. NBA teams are a perfect 6-0 on the season in the final game of a back-to-back-to-back stretch, but the streak is in serious jeopardy because the Bulls are playing some good basketball. On Monday night they dispatched the Detroit Pistons with a late 21-3 and rode strong performances by Derrick Rose (22 points on 8-16 shooting, 8 assists) and Carlos Boozer (23 points on 9-13 shooting, 8 rebounds). Here is a bit more on the damage the Bulls did to the Pistons:

After a ho-hum start by both by both teams that left the Bulls up just five points with 59.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Bulls orchestrated a 21-3 run to pave the way for a 92-68 victory. After matching franchise failures over three decades old in the last several games, on this night the Pistons scored their fewest points ever against the Bulls in the entire 260-game head-to-head history between the two teams. After two full games against the Bulls in 2012, Detroit has never held a lead. Brutal.

The true bright spot for Minnesota has been Kevin Love, who may have made the leap to stardom under the tutelage of head coach Rick Adleman. Entering Tuesday's game against the Bulls, Love is posting an average of 24.0 points and 14.9 rebounds per game, up from his career averages of 15.4 points and 11.8 rebounds. With the UCLA product doing everything better than he has ever done it before, Tom Thibodeau will no doubt attempt to devise a plan to stop Love. Minnesota has very little scoring talent behind their talented big man, considering Michael Beasley will miss the game with a foot injury. Speaking of Beasley, there might be some tension between him and Love lurking behind the scenes.

The T'Wolves haven't exactly been taking the league by storm on the strength of Love's season, but they have paved a way to respectability after ending the 2010-11 season with a record of 17-65. Ricky Rubio has looked like a solid point guard in his first NBA action, while rookie Derrick Williams has played well in spurts too. The staff at Canis Hoopus explains:

They're respectable. As bad as the Cavs and Grizz losses were, the Wolves have been in 7 of 8 games, they carry a positive ortg/drtg differential, and they are in the "play-here/play-there" range of being a winning ball club.

They're also a single competent wing player away from being really interesting. The Wolves kirtan: Love and Rubio are great (Love and Rubio are great), Adelman is the business (Adelman is the business), they don't have a competent wing player (they don't have a competent wing player).

That's it. On days/nights when the duo gets help, they'll be great. On the others, not so much.

Here is some basic information to help you find the game on Tuesday night:

Game day/time: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, 7:00 p.m. CT

Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

TV: CSN-Plus Chicago

Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bulls be sure to visit Blog a Bull. Timberwolves news and analysis is available at Canis Hoopus. Visit SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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