By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Friday, Wolves fans.
Tonight, the Wolves will try to win their second straight home game of the season as they host the Milwaukee Bucks.
Minnesota comes into the game with a 10-22 record, sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference. Milwaukee is 15-15, 7th in the East.
The Bucks - coming off a convincing road win in Detroit - are elite in terms of athleticism and length. They're trouble in the open court. Giannis Antetokounnpo - a top 12 player in the league - will be an All-Star this season. Jabari Parker (20.3pts, 5.8rbs) will have a chance to sneak in as well. They're an exciting, young team much like the Wolves, which makes for a fun game tonight at Target Center.
What: Wolves - Bucks
When: 7pm CT
Where: Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Fastbreak opportunities: The Bucks are incredibly dangerous in the open court. They're scoring the 5th most fastbreak points in the NBA at 16.0, which is a large concern for a team (Minnesota) that gives up the sixth-highest transition frequency (14.4%) and the 4th-highest efficiency (1.14PPP). If Milwaukee can run the way they want tonight, they're going to be tough to beat.
Growing pains: Much like the Wolves, the Bucks have had a fair share of blown leads this season. One can attribute Minnesota's blown leads to their starters being tired in crunch time because of having to make up for a bad bench the entire game. Milwaukee, on the other hand, boasts a productive bench (5th in NBA Deff). Therefore, their starters are simply blowing leads after the bench does their job. Frustrating for both teams. Something will have to give tonight.
The return: Many people will come to Target Center tonight to see Giannis Antetokounnpo and Jabari Parker on display. However, the main attraction will be former Wolf and 2008 number two overall pick Michael Beasley. Lol. All kidding aside, he's legitimally establishing himself as a valuable rotation player (averaging 8.2pts and 3.6rbs in 16.1 minutes per game while shooting 43.3% from three-point range) in Milwaukee's system after spending year part of last year in China. Props to Beas for his hard work. It pays off.
The Wolves lead the all-time series 29-23.
The Bucks are in the middle of a four-game road trip that will conclude tomorrow tonight in Chicago.
The Wolves have held the rebound edge in seven of the past nine games (+6.0 rpg in that span, 45.4-39.4).
The Bucks and Wolves play in opposite conferences, which prevents a true rivalry from developing with only two meetings each season. The teams play again March 11 in Milwaukee.
Although every Wolves loss seems like a collapsed bridge, things really aren't all that bad. Their starting five is playing very well. But with how bad their bench played, it doesn't even matter how good their starters are. This, my friends, makes it impossible for the Wolves to win consistently. When that will change is pure mystery. But for now, all we can do is hope they can be just productive enough so that Thibodeau doesn't have to play his starters 38+ minutes to keep them off the floor.
I think they'll show up at some level tonight, giving the starters needed rest heading into the fourth quarter.
Wolves win 107-100, close strong in crunch time. Target Center fills up in what will be the 3rd highest attended game of the season so far.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.