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Game Preview #32: Wolves at Bucks

The Chris Finch era is officially underway.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (7-24) at Milwaukee Bucks (18-13)
When: 7:00pm CST
TV: Fox Sports North (streaming on the Fox Sports Go app)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio

What To Watch For

Tonight’s matchup against our neighbors to the east officially kicks off a new era in Minnesota Timberwolves basketball — the Chris Finch era.

As you know by now, the Wolves relieved Ryan Saunders of his head coaching duties late Sunday night after a loss to the New York Thibs Knicks, and before many of us could even tweet out our reactions to the latest Woj Bomb, more news broke that not only was Ryan out, but Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch was in.

Our own Jack Borman hit on a variety of Finch-related topics yesterday in his mailbag, and as the week goes on we will have additional articles outlining Finch’s offensive style, how it will affect certain players (primarily Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards), and whether or not this new coach can successfully elevate Jaden McDaniels into the MVP conversation.

This isn’t an Earth-shattering statement, but the installation of yet another head coach in Minnesota all but assures that we will see significant changes in the on-court product (albeit maybe not right away tonight). How will Chris Finch, known by many as an offensive mastermind, construct an identity around Towns? Will the new head coach be able to find more unique ways to get Malik Beasley open shots? How will Finch’s desire to maximize possessions and push the pace (especially in transition) affect the Timberwolves already dreadful transition defense? And how does Anthony Edwards play into all of this (both now and going forward)?

While the irony of saying the phrase “a new era” for the 103rd time is not lost on me, I can safely say that I feel truly rejuvenated and reenergized to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves play basketball. Incorporating a brand new head coach on the fly, mid-season, during a pandemic, with no practice and very little time to watch film has all the makings of a disaster early on, but I do think we will see some unique tweaks right from the tip that should make the on-court product far more watchable than it’s been over the last few weeks.

Considering this is a Milwaukee Bucks blog, it should be noted that the home team tonight does indeed still have Giannis Antetokounmpo on the roster, which means things could get dicey early on if the Timberwolves don’t bring it on the defensive end. I’d expect a lot of Jarred Vanderbilt on Giannis to start things out, with guys like Jaden McDaniels (who somehow weighs SIXTY POUNDS less than the Greek Freak) and maybe even Jake Layman being mixed in to try and slow down the former league MVP.

Injury Reports

Another straight forward injury report for Minnesota. D’Angelo Russell is expected to be out another 4-6 weeks, while Jarrett Culver is expected to return to the court sometime later this week.

As for Milwaukee:

Jrue Holiday continues to be sidelined due to health & safety protocols related to COVID-19, otherwise the Bucks should have a rather full compliment of their roster tonight against Minnesota.

I’ll be recapping tonight’s game as well, so be on the look for that, otherwise I hope everyone is having a great week and can continue to stay safe and warm.