Another night of prime time basketball is on deck as the Milwaukee Bucks travel to the Great White North to face Midwest rival Minnesota Timberwolves. For some reason, this game is tipping off at 9:00pm Central time which means it likely won’t be until closer to 9:15. Thankfully it is a Friday night so for some of you, you will be able to sleep in on Saturday while others are looking at a rough morning for brunch. Okay that is enough whining from me.
Where We’re At
The Bucks are still undefeated!! Thanks to a pair of victories against the Detroit Pistons the Bucks currently hold a 7-0 record. The reasoning is straight forward; playing bad teams, a league-leading stifling defense and Giannis Antetokounmpo existing. That is a simple formula and will allow the Bucks to know that even if the offense struggles, the defense is good enough to carry them to a victory. After a home stand, it will be interesting how the Bucks play on the road with their only road game being the season opener against the Sixers.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves are having an ok time this season. Minnesota is 4-4 this year and currently on a two game losing streak. With trying to incorporate Rudy Gobert into the starting lineup and playing another Center in Karl Anthony-Towns has created growing pains. The offense has seen the consequences of this but that isn’t because of playing two centers. Our friends at Canis Hoopus mention how the backcourt is not doing the team any favors.
The punching bag online right now is D’Angelo Russell, and it’s hard not to be underwhelmed with his output this season. He’s averaging 14 PPG on 13 shots a night, with shooting splits of 39.5/27.9/78.3. To some degree, the shooting should come back around. This is a career 35.5% 3-point shooter, after all. A hot streak for some positive regression would be a boon for this offense, but the issues are deeper than that. Beyond just his shooting, it’s the pace and playmaking from Russell that have been most disappointing. He’s averaging 5.8 assists to 3.1 turnovers a game, and the game routinely grinds to a halt when he is in control of the offense. There is a notable difference in how quickly Minnesota gets into their offense with Russell at the helm compared to McLaughlin. Russell has been frustrating for sure, but Anthony Edwards is not without blame either. The metrics for Ant are better overall, but many of his team-wide metrics are buoyed by the fact that he’s spent the most time of any starter playing with the bench unit. To illustrate that point, the players with the five highest Offensive Ratings on the team are, in order, Jordan McLaughlin, Naz Reid, Kyle Anderson, Taurean Prince, and Jaylen Nowell. To Ant’s earlier point about seeing so many bodies at the rim, am I supposed to believe the spacing around a Anderson/Reid front court is noticeably better than a Towns/Gobert one? I don’t think so.
Anthony Edwards and the starters are not helping the matter either, but at least they are aware of it which is I guess is a silver lining.
The moment Anthony Edwards realized the starting lineup is currently hurting the Timberwolves pic.twitter.com/YVYo0Cw76J— Jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) November 2, 2022
Player to Watch
Are we in the midst of Brook Lopez’s prime? The center has looked like a force in the paint, leading the league in blocks per game. His movement has been crisp and he is making an early case to being first team All Defense. It will be interesting which big Brook will guard, though it will likely be Rudy Gobert so that he can stay closer to the rim.
Game 8: Against the Timberwolves, the Bucks will...
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