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Wolves at Bucks: The Grind Continues

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With every game vital, the Wolves need to summon their energy tonight in Milwaukee.

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

Wolves at Bucks
7:00 pm CST
FS North

Coming off a huge win last night over the Golden State Warriors in front of a record crowd at Target Center the Wolves face the difficult task of completing a home-road back to back tonight in Milwaukee. Last night’s game took a physical and emotional toll, but there is no rest for the weary. The Bucks also played last night, cruising to a home win against the Pacers, which was their fifth straight victory.

Without meaning to minimize recent wins against top Western Conference opponents—the Jazz, Clippers, and Warriors—tonight presents a different, and perhaps more difficult challenge. The Wolves have been the more desperate team in their recent stretch of success against almost every one of their opponents. Not tonight, as the Bucks are in a scrum with four other teams fighting for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

They currently sit eighth, a half game ahead of the Heat and Bulls, a half game behind the Pistons and a game and a half behind the Pacers in sixth. So every game is vital for them, as it is for the Wolves in their push to remain in the playoff hunt.

The Bucks have responded, winning five straight, including their own win over the Clippers. They are led by one of the truly unique talents in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo, a seven-foot do everything forward who gobbles up the court both offensively and defensively. It’s amazing: Statistically he is putting up numbers across all categories that are similar to peak Larry Bird (without the threes, but efficient nonetheless) with more blocked shots, or some of Kevin Garnett’s great seasons.

In the wake of Jabari Parker’s second ACL tear and the trade of their Plumlee, they have shuffled the lineup around. Rookie Thon Maker has entered the starting lineup, and over the last 13 games since, the Bucks have gone 9-4. Maker isn’t playing a ton of minutes, but it has created some better match-ups for them especially off the bench.

The first game between these teams resulted in a 116-99 Wolves win at Target Center in late December. It was one of their best games in the first half of the season. Giannis went for 25 on 11-14 from the field, but the Wolves did a good job on the rest of the Bucks, dominated early, and cruised, with the entire starting lineup at least +10 (led by Ricky Rubio’s +27.) Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine combined for 55 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 and 16, and the Wolves had one of their best shooting nights, 56 percent overall and 13-25 from three.

No Parker for the Bucks tonight, but Khris Middleton, who was not available early in the season, will be in the starting lineup. Malcolm Brogdon, who is having a very good rookie year missed last night’s game with back issues, his availability for tonight is unclear.

Expected Starting Lineups

Bucks

Matthew Dellavedova
Khris Middleton
Tony Snell
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Thon Maker

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Brandon Rush
Andrew Wiggins
Gorgui Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our Blogging buddies are over at the terrific Brew Hoop. Be excellent.

enjoychatgo.