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Bucks vs. Timberwolves Preview: Howl at the Loon

Milwaukee continues to thrive while its neighbor to the north tries to find its footing

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks may have looked rusty in their first tilt after the All-Star break against the Boston Celtics, but rusty doesn’ really matter in horseshoes if you still get the win, which the Bucks did. They’re back in action again at home with a chance to continue their hot streak against a Minnesota Timberwolves squad coming off a win over the New York Knicks.

Bucks Update

The Milwaukee Bucks are on such a roll right now, the team’s official twitter account has had to go full Sauron and splash shade on pundits just to find new targets for its sardonic wit. Milwaukee’s win over Boston may have been ugly, but that was to be expected given their extended time off. Most importantly, even with a bungled final offensive possession, they won by flummoxing Boston on their last gasp with Kyrie’s errant toss bouncing off the rim. The Bucks own the tiebreaker over both Boston and Toronto at this point, with two more games to go against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Milwaukee is about to start a heavy dose of Western Conference opponents (7 of their next 10) starting with this initial game against Minnesota. The Bucks last faced the Timberwolves on October 26, capitalizing on Jimmy Butler’s insurrection for a commanding 125-95 win. Giannis also only needed to play 23 minutes in that one.

Player to Watch: Nikola Mirotic

For the foreseeable future, most of Bucks fandom will likely be obsessed with how Threekola fits in with this squad. While his 3-point propensity got much of the attention, his defensive ability is what I’m more interested in. If he can play passable defense against bigs next to Giannis, that helps unlock small-ball lineups even more in the Playoffs. He stood up Al Horford twice in the second half against Boston, and any reps against KAT should be a fine proving ground for his nimbleness and ability to recover to the perimeter. If he splashes home a few deep triples, all the better.

Timberwolves Update

Since Thibs’ firing, I feel like I haven’t heard head nor tails out of this team. Fittingly, they’ve also gone a fairly anonymous 8-9 in that stretch. They entered the break beating the Clippers and Rockets and topped it off with an empty calorie W 115-104 against the Knicks to kick off the Post-ASB. Cleaning The Glass has them well within the middle of the league’s pack, ranked 12th in terms of offensive points per possession and 19th on defense. The T-Wolves play practically the diametric opposite of Milwaukee offensively, feasting on midrange jumpshots (4th highest percentage in the league), while avoiding the 3-point line (27th lowest percentage). I’m sure that looks positively delightful to this Bucks coaching staff, who will gladly let Minnesota do their midrange dance. They do allow the 7th highest percentage of shots from deep though, so look for the Bucks’ gunners to set up camp around the arc.

Robert Covington won’t be available tonight and Karl-Anthony Towns, after getting in a car accident, didn’t play after 303 consecutive starts against the Knicks when he entered the concussion protocol. His status is uncertain as of this publication.

Player to Watch: Jeff Teague

Teague had 27 and 12 assists in the Wolves win over Houston before the break, and he of course is also an old disciple of Budenholzer’s. I like thinking that Bledsoe wants to eliminate any lingering fond memories Bud has of his first point guard, so here’s hoping he goes full vice-grip on Teague.


Game 59: Against the Timberwolves the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (192 votes)
  • 14%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (36 votes)
  • 2%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (12 votes)
247 votes total Vote Now