- The Timberwolves try to get back on track tonight when they welcome the Bucks to the Target Center at 7:00 p.m. ET
- Can Milwaukee pick up its fifth straight win?
- Will Khris Middleton and Tony Snell be able to contain Jimmy Butler?
- The odds for the moneyline, spread, and game total vary from sportsbook to sportsbook. Which ones offer the best value?
Sometimes a change can be as good as a rest. That’s been the case for the Bucks (27-22, 10-13 away), who have won four straight since firing head coach Jason Kidd on January 22nd. Two-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo credits his team’s hot streak to an improved mindset.
“We’re just playing harder, trusting one another”
We’re just playing harder, trusting one another, he recently told reporters. “Just in general having fun when we’ve been out there.”
Another key difference has been the Bucks’ defensive scheme. Under Kidd, Milwaukee employed a hyper-aggressive blitzing style of D designed to make the most of the roster’s length and athleticism. It makes sense in principle, but more often than not, the Bucks looked like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. All of that scrambling left players out of place and gave opponents an uninhibited path to the basket.
Interim head coach Joe Prunty has since simplified the team’s defensive approach and the results have been impressive. The Bucks have kept their last three opponents under 100 points and held the 76ers to a season-low 7.7-percent from behind the arc on Monday night.
Defense has also been at the heart of Minnesota’s improvement this season. The Wolves (32-22, 20-6 home) are giving up fewer points, offensive rebounds, free throws, and points in the paint than a year ago, and they held seven straight opponents under 100 points from December 28th to January 10th.
Those kinds of results would have been unheard of a year ago, and much of the credit goes to Jimmy Butler, who is averaging a career-high two steals per game and brings a hard-nosed intensity to both ends of the court. His defensive acumen even appears to be rubbing off on Andrew Wiggins, who is posting career highs in steals and blocks in the first year of his five-year, $146.5 million deal.
Wiggins and Butler will have to be on top of their game tonight to keep Antetokounmpo in check and bring an end to Milwaukee’s streak.
Ryan Murphy 2017-18 Season Stats
- ATS record: 59-36 (62.1-percent)
- SU record: 239-108 (68.8-percent)
- O/U record: 39-35 (52.7-percent)
Milwaukee Bucks vs Minnesota Timberwolves Team Stats
|48.1||Field Goal Percentage||47.6|
|35.4||Three Point Percentage||35.0|
|46.8||Field Goal Percentage||47.8|
|37.0||Three Point Percentage||37.1|
|45.3||Points In Point||45.6|
This is the second meeting this season between Milwaukee and Minnesota. The Bucks overcame a 20-point deficit to win the first matchup 102-96 on December 28th. Eric Bledsoe led the way with 26 points and had a hand in all four of Milwaukee’s final baskets.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and five boards for the Wolves, but Minnesota struggled down the stretch and managed just 12 points in the fourth quarter. The team looked sluggish at times after downing Denver in overtime the night before.
Bucks: Milwaukee kept its win streak alive by defeating Philadelphia 107-95 on Monday night. Antetokounmpo led the charge with 31 points, 18 rebounds, and six assists, and Matthew Dellavedova chipped in ten points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. The Bucks committed just nine turnovers and held Philly to 43-percent shooting from the field.
Timberwolves: Minnesota blew a 13-point lead and lost to Toronto 109-104 on Tuesday night. Butler had 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists, but was unable to slowdown fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan, who scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half. The loss dropped Minnesota’s January road record to a dismal 1-8.
Notable Injuries and Absences
Bucks: Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker, Mirza Teletovic
Bledsoe exited Monday’s game against the 76ers with a sore left ankle and is considered questionable for tonight. Parker has been practicing with the Bucks and will make his long-awaited season debut on Friday against the Knicks. Teletovic has developed pulmonary emboli in both lungs and is excepted to be sidelined for at least three more months.
Betting the Moneyline
Best Bucks Moneyline: +200
Best Timberwolves Moneyline: -210
Bucks Straight-Up Trends
- Milwaukee is 10-13 SU on the road
- Milwaukee is 6-4 SU in its last ten games
- Milwaukee is 7-13 SU as an underdog
- Milwaukee is 13-6 SU in non-conference games
- Milwaukee is 13-13 SU after a win
- Milwaukee is 6-8 SU after 2-3 days off
Timberwolves Straight-Up Trends
- Minnesota is 20-6 SU at home
- Minnesota is 4-6 SU in its last ten games
- Minnesota is 25-10 SU as a favorite
- Minnesota is 8-13 SU in non-conference games
- Minnesota is 15-6 SU after a loss
- Minnesota is 23-13 SU after one day off
Expert Moneyline Advice: Timberwolves -210
Milwaukee’s four-game win streak is noteworthy, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Three of those wins came against sub-.500 teams and the fourth was against Philadelphia on a night when the Sixers were sitting Joel Embiid. The Bucks deserve credit for stringing together multiple wins, but there’s a big difference between beating teams you’re supposed to beat and actually defeating a playoff contender. Milwaukee will have a chance to do the latter tonight, and it won’t be an easy task.
Minnesota is third in the league in offensive rating and has a huge advantage in the paint, where Towns should be able to eat up and spit out the lankier duo of John Henson and Thon Maker. The nimble 7-foot All-Star had 22 points on 8-12 shooting the first time he faced Milwaukee this season and averaged 26.5 points, 15 boards, and two blocks against the Bucks in 2016-17. Milwaukee will also have to contend with Butler, who has the ability to make life miserable for Khris Middleton and Tony Snell on both ends of the court.
Take the Wolves and watch as Minnesota regains its mojo at home.
Betting Against the Spread
Best Bucks Spread: +5.5 (-110)
Best Timberwolves Spread: -5.5 (-110)
Bucks Against-The-Spread Trends
- Milwaukee is 20-24-5 ATS this season (45.5-percent)
- Milwaukee is 12-10-1 ATS on the road
- Milwaukee is riding a three-game ATS winning streak
Timberwolves Against-The-Spread Trends
- Minnesota is 26-26-2 ATS this season (50-percent)
- Minnesota is 13-12-1 ATS at home
- Minnesota is on a one-game ATS winning streak
Expert Against-The-Spread Advice: Bucks +5.5 (-110)
The Bucks beat the Wolves by six points during their first meeting of the season, and tonight’s game should be another tight, see-saw affair from the opening tip-off to the final whistle. Although Minnesota possesses a clear advantage in the post, Milwaukee has an unguardable superstar of its own in Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is averaging 33 points, 13.3 boards, and seven dimes since returning from a minor knee injury, and can single-handedly keep this one close. The Bucks have done a poor job of covering the spread in 2017-18, but tonight should be an exception as they ride into Milwaukee with a renewed focus and brimming with confidence.
Game Total Betting
Best Over Odds: 211.5 (-108)
Best Under Odds: 211.5 (-112)
Bucks Game Total Trends
- Milwaukee is 27-22 O/U
- Milwaukee is 13-10 O/U on the road
Timberwolves Game Total Trends
- Minnesota is 27-26-1 O/U
- Minnesota is 13-12-1 O/U at home
Expert Game-Total Advice: Over 211.5 (-105)
The Wolves have been struggling lately, but it hasn’t been on offense. Minnesota is third in the NBA in offensive rating and sixth in scoring, and has averaged 108.4 points over its last five games. A return to the Target Center tonight should also help goose the final score, as the Wolves score 3.7 more points and dish out 2.3 more assists when playing on their home court.
The Bucks have also been prolific lately. Milwaukee is averaging 107.2 points over its last five games and topped 110 points seven times in the month of January. They look considerably looser under interim head coach Joe Prunty and should have little trouble doing their part to surpass the 211.5-point total.
Additional SU Picks
Bucks vs Timberwolves is just one of five games on tap on Thursday night. Here are our other four straight up picks.
|Match Up||SU Pick|
|Grizzlies vs Pistons||Pistons|
|Raptors vs Wizards||Raptors|
|Rockets vs Spurs||Rockets|
|Thunder vs Nuggets||Thunder|
Let's have fun and keep it civil.