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Bucks at Wolves preview: Running slowly through a vector

The Minnesota Timberwolves are just 1-6 in their past seven games, but the Milwaukee Bucks should have their hands full of matchup problems if the backcourt goes stale.

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

2012/2013 NBA Season
(7-6, 4-2 road)
(6-8, 3-3 home)
November 28, 2012
Target Center | Minneapolis, MN
7:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Jennings PG Luke Ridnour
Monta Ellis SG Malcolm Lee
Tobias Harris SF Josh Howard
John Henson PF Derrick Willaims
Samuel Dalembert C Nikola Pekovic
2012/13 Advanced Stats
94.4 (2nd) Pace 90.7 (25th)
104.4 (18th) ORtg 101.8 (22nd)
103.6 (13th) DRtg 102.7 (10th)

On the Wolves: Canis Hoopus | Timber Pups | A Wolf Among Wolves

In defense of transition. In seven wins, the Bucks' offensive efficiency broke the 100 point barrier. Conversely, in all six losses, Milwaukee had an offensive efficiency rating below 100. For your sake, I'm going to "yada yada yada" the part about the Bucks' offensive strengths and just say that slow games do not tip the advantage scales towards Jennings, Ellis & Co. As it happens, the Wolves are very good at slowing opposing offenses into halfcourt sets (1.08 PPP in transition - 8th in the NBA, per Synergy Sports). They also rank 5th best in opponent pace (93.1). Expect a huge test of viability for the NBA's second fastest (94.4 pace) and third best transition offense (1.29 PPP). To paraphrase the immortal John Van Buren, "Score early and often."

Forest for the threes. "Thank god for Minnesota," said Milwaukee's three point shooting prowess. The Bucks and Wolves rank 29th (30.2%) and 30th (27.7%), respectively, in shooting percentage from beyond the arc. That's reflective of Minnesota's offense, which relies heavily on Bash Brothers Kevin Love and Pekovic while minimizing guards that can only be described as putrid (33.1 ppg from backcourt - 30th in the NBA). The Bucks are a very different, much sadder story, as they have a near-exclusive offensive relationship with a shooting-challenged backcourt (3rd most ppg in the NBA). Minnesota has the post presence and foul-drawing capabilities to get away with playing bad guards and Luke Ridnour 32 minutes a game. Milwaukee has struggled against similar frontcourts this season (see: Grizzlies, Knicks), so unless the shots are falling, the Bucks could be in for a long night.

Tonight's silver lining.* There isn't one. The Wolves can effectively counter every Bucks strength. Check the hope-springs-eternal blog next door if you want optimism.

*There is one now. Love and Andrei Kirilenko will not be playing this evening. Let's pop some bottles!