Preview: Wolves vs. Bucks
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves are glad to be heading home.
Minnesota stubbed its toe on its recent road trip, losing to the team with one of the NBA’s worst records in Atlanta. The Timberwolves also dropped a road contest to one of the top teams in the East in Toronto.
It’s the seventh time this season Minnesota has lost back-to-back games. But as of yet, the Wolves have not lost three straight. Tom Thibodeau’s team will look to keep that trend alive as it returns home to Target Center, the site of 10 straight Timberwolves victories.
“I think we did pretty well in January,” Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We just have to keep winning at home.”
Minnesota (32-22) will have its home winning streak put to the test with the Milwaukee Bucks coming to town Thursday. Since firing head coach Jason Kidd, the Bucks have done nothing but win. They’re 4-0 under interim head coach Joe Prunty.
These same two teams squared off in late December, with Milwaukee winning at home after the Timberwolves blew a 20-point fourth-quarter lead. Now the Bucks will try to keep their new head coach perfect since he took the reins just over a week ago.
“Anytime you got 4-0 it’s a good week,” Bucks center John Henson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Hopefully we can keep it up.”
Thursday’s game is one day shy of Bucks forward Jabari Parker’s season debut after tearing his ACL last year. Parker is scheduled to return to action Friday at home against the Knicks. While Milwaukee has won without Parker — and will try to do so again Thursday — the Bucks are eager for his return.
While Prunty has found early success since taking over for Kidd, his players remain hungry. The Bucks were just one game above .500 when Kidd was fired, yet they’re still very much in the playoff hunt in the East.
Yet one successful week means nothing if Milwaukee can’t build on that success.
“Usually when we get games like this, we win four in a row, we relax a little bit,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’ve just got to stay down-to-earth as a team and keep playing hard, keeping doing what we do, what makes us good, what helps us win games and just go get another one.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, needs to continue its winning ways at home. While it appears the Timberwolves are on their way to their first playoff appearance in over a decade, Thibodeau’s squad hasn’t quite been able to replicate its home success on the road.
The Wolves have two home games in three days with a chance to get back on track after stumbling once again on the road.
“You have to find ways to win,” Thibodeau said. “I think we had a winning month, but we start a new one now. We have to make sure we’re right and ready, from the beginning.”