Monday night NBA basketball action features an interesting non-conference matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves have been one of the bigger surprises of the nascent season aas they stand at 4-1 and are in the mix at the top of the Western Conference. Making it all the more interesting–they’ve only played one home game prior to this matchup. The Timberwolves were one of the worst road teams in the NBA last season going 11-30 away from home which largely negated the fact that they had a decent 25-16 record on their home floor. This year, however, they’re 3-1 away from home with wins at Brooklyn, Charlotte and Washington along with a loss against Philadelphia.
It might not be appropriate to say that the ‘Bucks have started where they left off last year’ when they had the best record in the NBA. They’re doing fine at the moment at 4-2 and are well poised to make a move toward the top of the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee has won three of their last 4, coming off a win at Orlando and home over Toronto. They play 7 of their next 8 games on the road including stops in Los Angeles to play the Clippers, Utah and Oklahoma City. If they Bucks have an issue it’s on the defensive end where they’ve been decidedly mediocre ranking at #16 on the points per game table. Of course, that can be said about most of the teams in the league at this juncture. The offense has been clicking and are at #2 on the points per game hit parade with 119.2 PPG. Surprisingly, so is Minnesota–they’re at #5 at 118 PPG.
There are some scheduling issues that could help Minnesota but the $64,000 question is their validity at this early juncture in the NBA season. The Bucks have played 3 games in four nights and this will be the first of another three in four situation. That’s become more and more common in the NBA as they try to reduce the number of back to back spots a team has to deal with during the season. I’m leaning toward thinking it’s a ‘non issue’ at this point–Milwaukee has a day off before this game and another day off after this game. Minnesota is in a similar spot and have three conference matchups coming up against Memphis, injury ravaged Golden State and Denver.
Minnesota deserves credit for playing well in the early days of the season but I’ll reserve judgement on them before saying that they’re ‘for real’. Milwaukee definitely has the ‘back class’ advantage in this matchup and had no problem with the T-Wolves last year winning by 12 at home and 30 at Minnesota. The Wolves did cover in their road meeting but barely, losing by 12 as +13 dogs. The total also looks high and these teams have gone ‘Under’ in 3 of their last 4 head to head including 2 straight in Milwaukee.