Bucks vs. Timberwolves Preview | Milwaukee tips off road trip still searching for consecutive wins

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks will take their 13th shot at winning back-to-back games when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night.

13/14 NBA Season
Mil_medium
(13-50, 5-24 road)
vs.
(31-31, 17-13 home)
March 11, 2014
Target Center | Minneapolis, MN
7:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Ricky Rubio
Nate Wolters SG Kevin Martin
Khris Middleton SF Corey Brewer
Ersan Ilyasova PF Kevin Love
Zaza Pachulia C Nikola Pekovic
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.7 (26th) Pace 97.4 (4th)
101.8 (27th) ORtg 108.8 (9th)
110.4 (30th) DRtg 104.9 (11th)

On the Wolves: Canis HoopusTimber PupsA Wolf Among Wolves

UPDATE. John Henson gets thrown to the wolves tonight.

Wolves Update. The Timberwolves have some impressive wins in the last month or so, taking down Indiana at home and Phoenix on the road. In between those games they continue smashing bad teams to tiny bits with regularity, beating outfits like Denver, Utah, and Detroit by double-digits. But then they go ahead and lose to a Knicks team on a seven-game skid like they did last Wednesday. Every team has slip-ups, but the Wolves can look so dominant at times that it's shocking to see them sitting at .500 on the season.

The numbers back up that surprise. The Wolves are 10th in the Western Conference standings despite a point-differential that suggests they're one of the 10 best teams in the NBA! A 1-5 record in games decided by 3 points or less (worse than the 2-4 Bucks!) has a lot to do with it, especially if you consider how many games Minnesota has lost by just a few more points. Much of that is luck--record in close games is a pretty volatile statistic year-to-year, being determined by a few bounces of the ball over the course of an entire season. But where good teams are concerned, it usually regresses as the season goes on. For the Timberwolves, that lucky bounce-back just never seems to come.

Kevin Love continues to just tear things apart. He's 3rd in the NBA in PER and Win Shares, speaking to how comprehensively he's affecting the game right now. He's back to raining threes (38.0 3P%) and gobbling up rebounds (13.1 per game), and now he's dishing assists at almost twice the rate he's ever done before. Love keys an offense that never turns it over, crashes the offensive glass, and gets to the line a ton. But strangely enough, they're quite bad at shooting, just 24th in eFG%.

Minnesota's bench is a big problem--they just can't get any consistent offense off the pine. The Timberwolves score the 4th-fewest bench points in the NBA, with J.J. Barea's 8.7 per-game average the highest among non-starters. If the Wolves manage to earn a spot in the playoffs that weak bench shouldn't be as much of an issue, but in the regular season the shallow rotation has really hurt them at times.

UPDATE from Frank:

Bucks notes. Some required reading ahead of tonight's game:

  • Save Our Bucks | The Arena Debate
    The Milwaukee arena task force (and all its glorious 48 members) meet tonight at 6 pm. Check out all the details at SOB if you have a chance to go, and watch this space for updates on future meetings.  We weren't able to send anyone to attend in person but hopefully will manage it next time around.
  • JS | 'Shot doctor' offers some shooting solutions for the Bucks
    Good stuff here on what player development coach Josh Oppenheimer is doing with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nate Wolters and Brandon Knight. Side note: if the bucks have a shot doctor, he should probably also be spending a lot of time with John Henson, right?
  • JS | Henson battles sophomore slump
    Speaking of which: Charles Gardner confirms that Henson is working on his free throws, albeit it with big man coach Scott Williams. There's also the usual canned stuff about showing signs of life after a rough February, but definitely worth a read given the importance of getting Henson going over the last month of the season
  • NBA.com | Open season for open shooters
    Did you know Khris Middleton is lethal when left open? Probably, but here's the data to back it up.
  • Some fun stats and notes following last night's 104-98 win over the Magic:

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