February 1, 2018, 10:52 pm
Coming into tonight’s contest, the Bucks were already short-handed with injuries to Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker and Mirza Teletovic, with Jason Terry also out of the game due to personal reasons. Particularly at the point guard position, there was some cause for concern for the Bucks.
Then in the first quarter Malcolm Brogdon took a bad step and came up lame. He was helped out the court and into the locker room and was soon ruled out for the rest of the game, leaving the Bucks with just one healthy point guard in Matthew Dellavedova.
It wasn’t the only reason why the Bucks lost the game, but it certainly played a major factor. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a dynamic player and initiates a lot of the offense on a normal night, but without much true point guard depth behind him their offense stalled a number of times.
Defensively they had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, who combined for 52 points on 18-of-28 shooting and 13-of-14 at the line. The duo did most of the damage tonight as no one else even scored in double-digits.
Perhaps they wanted to put on a show for the star-studded crowed on hand. Playing not only in front of a wave of Minnesota Timberwolves’ faithfuls but a collection of NFL stars, hip-hop artists and a boxing legend, and perhaps more unidentified special guests, Butler and Towns sent everyone home, or to the clubs, or the film room, happy.
Before the game Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick strolled into the arena and studied his long-time friend Tom Thibodeau’s coaching style. Steelers wide-receiver Antonio Brown came courtesy of good friend Jimmy Butler. Floyd Mayweather arrived court-side and Lil Jon even performed a halftime show.
Butler scored 28 points and added six assists, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Towns scored 24 points with 11 rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer, and the Wolves went on to win 108-89.
The Wolves had a number of positive contributions from other players outside of the scoring column. Wiggins was playing with high energy all night despite not seeing his shot fall as much. He finished with seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, but added six rebounds, three steals and one block.
Taj Gibson scored only nine points, but he was part of the key defensive effort on Giannis. The entire team was involved in slowing him down and performed an admirable job. Giannis finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, but he shot only 6-of-14 overall and the Wolves as a team closed off a lot of his options.
Giannis ended up forcing the issue a lot, and while he’s incredible talented and able to make plays on his own, he’s not quite at a level where he can consistently play the hero and carry his team to victory on his own. With pretty much Kris Middleton as his only backup but Bucks just couldn’t brew anything together.
Middleton finished with 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The Wolves finished the game shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3-point range (7-of-19) and 85 percent from the line (17-of-20), while holding the Bucks to just 37.6 percent from the field, 20.7 percent from 3-point range (6-of-29) and 76 percent from the line (19-of-25).
Up next the Wolves will take on the Pelicans on Saturday. The Pelicans have been in the news a lot recently after the terrible blow of losing DeMarcus Cousins and the fallout from that. As the day before the Super Bowl, there will likely be an even more star-studded crowd, resembling that of a typical LA Lakers game.