In a rare Wednesday afternoon special, the Milwaukee Bucks made hotdish out of the Minnesota Timberwolves, using a big 3rd quarter to coast to a 130-105 win. Khris Middleton led the way for the victors with 27 points on 9/15 shooting, chipping in 8 boards and 7 assists to boot. First-overall pick Anthony Edwards was impressive from deep (5/11) but inefficient overall for a Minnesota-high 24 points on 21 shots.
The best plays from tonight’s WIN against the Timberwolves!! pic.twitter.com/AsjUEnxTgF— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 14, 2021
What Did We Learn?
There’s never much to glean from blowing out abysmal teams, especially when they’re missing their star (Karl-Anthony Towns missed today’s tilt for personal reasons). Even more so when the Bucks don’t have Giannis, who at least seems close to a return. But as Milwaukee welcomed PJ Tucker back, we at least saw him work in starter-heavy lineups, as many of us expect him to primarily appear with at least 3 starters in the playoffs. Tucker was -1 sharing the court with Teague, DiVincenzo, Middleton, and Portis in the first half and -5 after checking in with largely the same cast in the third, subbing Holiday for Teague. At one point he vacated the corner just before a pass was sent his way from the top of the arc, sailing into the third row. It’s going to take PJT some time to mesh with this team, even if the fit is good on paper. Let’s hope 18 games will be enough.
Brook Lopez demolished the T-Wolves’ defense inside and out. He played an excellent second fiddle on the Bucks today with 18 points on 6/9 shooting (2/4) from deep and hit 4/4 at the line. Minnesota’s interior defense has long been suspect so this is to be expected. It was Brook, though, who powered Milwaukee to a quick 20+ lead out of half as he and his teammates racked up 45 in the third.
Pat Connaughton finished 4/8 behind the line as he rediscovers his three-point stroke. After starting April missing his first 14 treys, he’s now 7/11 over the last two as he inches back above 39% for the season. He hit 3 consecutive in the weak-side corner as the first half closed and the Bucks made their move, a stretch where he scored 11 of a 14-4 Milwaukee run. Although Connaughton provides some value with his rebounding and cutting, he’s a clear positive when he’s drilling shots. It’s incumbent on him to keep it up in the playoffs, or risk losing minutes to the always sweet-shooting Bryn Forbes.
I’ll say it: Jordan Nwora is a shot-maker. While it’s usually in garbage time as it was today, the Louisville rookie is knocking things down in regular rotation minutes too as we’ve seen in his recent spot starts. He hasn’t shown much else yet—particularly on defense—but as the Bucks’ stars get rest in the next month he should have enough opportunity to prove his scoring punch is legit. He has a solid-for-a-rook .562% TS%, tied with Rookie of the Year contender LaMelo Ball (in many fewer minutes, of course).
Bonus Bucks Bits
- In the first half, Khris Middleton hit the deck after a three point attempt caromed away and it appeared he landed on the feet of a T-Wolf who closed out laterally on him. I haven’t seen a replay yet, but live it appeared to be a clear Kawhi Leonard-Zaza Pachulia situation. We have seen officials review and charge flagrant foul 1s on less contact—notably Bryn Forbes in recent weeks. I’m glad Middleton is ok, but it’s really frustrating to not see refs apply this oft-bizarre rule consistently.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo must have gotten the green light from the bench to go nuts in this one. He was taking all kinds of suspect shots in the second half while the game was firmly in Milwaukee’s hands, but in normal game situations as the season wraps up he needs to be more in control of his body.
- Jeff Teague hit a long ball but was otherwise quiet facing his former team, with 5 points and 1 assist in 16 minutes.
- Rodions Kurucs should never play in the NBA again.
- It sounded like Mike Budenholzer was talking on a walkie-talkie during the postgame presser. Doesn’t everyone love Zoom?
- Bobby Portis apparently developed this celebration while playing with Robin Lopez in Chicago and now does it with the other Lopez. Naturally, Brook went on record in the postgame saying that his version is better.