After dropping five consecutive games, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to have gotten back on the winning path. When many people questioned whether Mike Budenholzer should still be coaching the Bucks, the Timberwolves decided to cut ties with their own head coach. Can the change in Minnesota’s leadership get off to a good start in Milwaukee on Tuesday? Or will Coach Budenholzer’s seat cool down a bit with a third consecutive victory?
Bucks Getting Back on Track
After back-to-back wins against the Thunder and Kings, Milwaukee is looking to go 3 for 3 against sub .500 teams. Following a six game road trip where they lost the final three, the Bucks returned home and lost two straight against Toronto. With fans’ patience wearing thin, they may have restored some faith with a pair of 13 point wins.
While the competition hasn’t necessarily been stellar the last couple games, it was encouraging to see Khris Middleton get back to being himself. Hitting contested mid-rangers, a few three pointers, and making his free throws. After being tormented by the Raptors’ defense it appears he got his confidence boosted against the softer defenses of OKC and Sacramento.
Giannis on the other hand has been stellar all throughout these past ten games. He’s averaged 31.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game since the start of the previous road trip. With Jrue out, and Middleton off his game for a while, Giannis carried the team as much as he single handedly could. In addition, he has been shooting nearly 74% from the free throw line over the last ten games. If he can keep that free throw rate up, the league is in big trouble.
While the Timberwolves’ awful record of 7-24 would indicate they haven’t been very competitive this year, a deeper dive would say otherwise. They have not lost a game by double digits since they played Philadelphia on January 29th. Since that night they have played 13 games and the largest scoring differential was a seven point loss. So while they have gone 3-10 in that span, they have kept every game close until the end.
Maybe the hiring of new head coach Chris Finch will be the difference in getting this young team over the hump. This year’s #1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has had flashes of what he could be some day but still has work to do. Meanwhile former #1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns has missed lots of time due to injury/illness. What is clear is this Minnesota team has some great talent, they just need more time to grow together and maybe a new voice to guide them.
Only time will tell if Minnesota made the right choice in selecting Edwards first this year along with their decision to hire a new coach. The one thing certain going into tomorrow’s game is the uncertainty of what to expect from the Timberwolves. This is an important contest for both coaches to give their organizations confidence in their abilities.
When all is said and done I have to believe Milwaukee pulls out this win. Not to say the Timberwolves won’t keep it close, but Coach Bud needs this victory. If Milwaukee doesn’t end up victorious in a game against a 7-24 opponent, Bucks fans will not take it lightly. I believe Minnesota will keep it close most of the game, with the Bucks winning it by approximately 10 points.
Look for KAT to have a big game against Brook Lopez. His polished all-round offensive game could prove tough for Lopez to defend. Brook won’t be able to sag off much due to his ability to hit the long ball. Additionally, if Brook gets too close KAT can use his athletic advantages to get to the hoop. This feels similar to the Magic and Vucevic as far as the match up goes. He will get his numbers; it’s a matter of keeping everyone else in check.
I expect Giannis to continue his hot streak and score at least 25 points and grab 10 rebounds. Outside of KAT I don’t see anyone on their roster who could out rebound Giannis or defend him in the paint. While KAT is fairly athletic for a big man, he also cannot keep up with Giannis off the dribble one on one. I envision Giannis flirts with a triple double Tuesday night.
Final Score Prediction: MIL 119 – MIN 110