The Minnesota Timberwolves return from their four-game West coast road trip to face the Milwaukee Bucks at the Target Center on Friday night.
The TWolves come off that road trip 1-3, with losses to Portland, Golden State and the L.A. Clippers and a W over Sacramento. They return to the Target Center 6-8 and losers of 6 of their last 7 games.
The Milwaukee Bucks are 7-6 thus far this season, they're currently 4th in the East with that record, they're also 4-2 on the road and 5-5 in their last ten games. The TWolves are 3-3 at home and 3-7 i their last 10 games. They're hoping to get back on track after they started the season 5-2.
They could struggle with 'getting back on track' as they'll be without small forward Andrei Kirilenko. AK will miss his second consecutive game as he continues to deal with back spasms. They could also be without Kevin Love who's dealing with an 'illness'. He's questionable for tonight's game, a gametime decision. If he's unable to go, it's likely Derrick Williams will be back in the starting lineup.
For the Bucks, they'll be without their starting small forward (whose been out all season) Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute had offseason knee surgery and was targeting a late-November return. There's a small chance he could make his season debut tonight, but I wouldn't count on it.
The Timberwolves are coming off a narrow loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night in L.A. It was a back-and-forth affair, however the Clippers were able to pull away in the final minutes for the 95-101 victory. Love had 19pts, 12reb, 3ast, 1blk, but struggled shooting the ball, just 3-of-12. Shved added 17pts & 2reb in a career-high 36 minutes off the bench. Luke finished with 13pts, 1reb, 7ast, 1stl and Pek added 11pts, 10reb, 2ast, 2stls, 1blk.
The Bucks also played on Wednesday night in a matchup with the New York Knicks. It was an easy victory for the Knicks as they had no problem bouncing their East rivals. Jennings had 18pts, 3reb, 5ast; Ellis added 17pts, 2reb, 7ast, 3stls and Ben Udrih came off the bench to dump in 18pts, 2reb, 1ast. Looking at those three statlines, I'm a little concerned for the Wolves considering their thin backcourt and struggles against better backcourts.
Let's take a look at the likely starting lineups...
The Timberwolves may very well be without two of their starters. Coming into this season Luke Ridnour & Nikola Pekovic are the only guys on that list that should be starters for this team. Of course, Ridnour will be replaced by Rubio by the end of the month as well. For the Bucks, they've got some great play from their backcourt, but they've struggled to get production from their starting frontcourt. John Henson has replaced Ersan Ilyasova in the starting lineup. Ilyasova was one of the NBA's Most Improved Players in 2011-12. This summer he got a big $40+ million contract. He started the first 11 games, but has moved to the bench for the last two with averages this year of 6.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 0.5spg, 0.3bpg, 35% FG, 21% 3PT, 47% FT in 22.3mpg. Not the statline you want to see from your second-highest paid player on the roster.
Let's take a look at the last five games for each team...
Both teams have struggled as of late, both going 1-4 over their last five games. I don't doubt the Wolves are the better team, I'd say if Kevin Love can play and does so at a 20-10 level the Wolves should walk away victorious, that's assuming Monta & Jennings don't both turn in big games against the likes of Luke Ridnour & Malcolm Lee. The good news is, Lee excels at guarding smaller guards, which both Ellis & Jennings are, he'll match up with Ellis and we should get a good reading on Lee's potential as a defensive stopper in this League against one of the best offensive shooting guards in the NBA.
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 7pmCT, which I think anyone who watched the last four games (with start times of 9-9:30) is thrilled about (I know I am). A full gameday recap of this one can be found on this site following the final horn, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!