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Timberwolves/Bucks: Preview

Timberwolves (3-18, 1-9 road, 15th West) @ Bucks (9-13, 7-2 home, 10th East)

Gametime: 7:30 PM CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com
Bucks.com Gameday

Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (101.1 pts/100 poss), Defense 28th (107.0), Rebounding 8th (.510 rr), Pace 19th (93.4)
Timberwolves Stats: Offense 6th (97.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 29th (107.6), Rebounding 15th (.501 rr), Pace 14th (94.8)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Timberwolves Lineup: Sebastian Telfair / Marko Jaric / Corey Brewer / Craig Smith / Al Jefferson

Bucks Injuries: Michael Ruffin is out another week or so with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out at least a month with a wrist sprain.
Celtics Injuries: Greg Buckner is day-to-day with a calf injury. Antione Walker is day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Theo Ratliff is going to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and is out. Randy Foye is out with a stress reaction in his knee.

06/07 Series: Bucks 2-0. The Bucks beat the Timberwolves twice in the same week, 108-104 at the Bradley Center on Dec. 16 and again 113-107 at the Target Center on Dec. 22.

Key Points:

  • The Bucks return from the Garden back home to the Bradley Center, where they have they have the third best record in the East, at 7-2. Last time the Bucks were at home, they convincingly defeated the Magic 100-86. The Timberwolves meanwhile come in with tied for the NBA's worst road record, at 1-9. They did win at New Orleans 103-94 on Nov. 26.
  • Both Midwest teams are on streaks that rival the air outside their home stadiums: cold. The Timberwolves come in as losers of three straight and nine of ten. The Bucks scored 38 second-half points in a loss to the Celtics last night and have lost eight of their last ten.
  • After being held to 82 points against the NBA's top defensive team last night, the Bucks will have a better chance to score points tonight against the 29th rated defensive team. The Celtics held an opponent under 90 points for the 12th time this year against the Bucks last night. The Timberwolves have allowed at least 90 points in every game this season.
  • Bell averaged 22.0 points on 50.0 % shooting in two games against the Timberwolves last year. Then again, this is a very different version of the Timberwolves. Mike James, Ricky Davis, Trenton Hassell, Kevin Garnett, and Mark Blount started on their last trip to the Bradley Center and none are still with the team.
  • The most important new face is Jefferson, the centerpiece for the Timberwolves in the Garnett trade.  Jefferson is averaging a team-high 20.0 points and ranks fifth in the NBA in rebounds with 11.3. Some consider Jefferson more of a natural power forward than a center. Hopefully Bogut will return to his shot-blocking form of earlier this season against a generally undersized team. After averaging 2.5 blocks in November, he's down to 1.3 in December, and has just one total in the last four games.  
  • Jefferson teams with frontcourt mate Smith, one of the best second round draft picks in the last few years. Smith is a strong, smart post player with a soft touch around the rim. He ranks fifth in the NBA, shooting 57.5 % from the field. Listed at 6'7", he's an undersized power forward, and he'll be giving four inches to Yi. However, he has 34 pounds on Yi and plays unlike most second year players after enjoying four accomplished years at Boston College. Smith, who scored 36 points on Tuesday against the Wizards, has a great nickname, Cookie Monster, and an accompanying YouTube highlight video.
  • Telfair has found new NBA life in Minnesota, getting a career-high 30.8 minutes. And while he still can't shoot (41.7 % from the field), he does boast a 2.57 assist-to-turnover ratio, placing him ahead of Andre Miller, Deron Williams, and Mo Williams.
  • Jaric, as reported by Fanhouse via NBA.com, has seen his production increase since dating supermodel Adriana Lima. Naturally.
  • Check out TWolvesBlog for more on tonight's opponent.