The Milwaukee Bucks will look to make franchise history when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
After matching the franchise-best start of 7-0 with Wednesday’s 116-91 rout of the Detroit Pistons, the Bucks can enter the team’s record books with a victory over Minnesota.
The league’s only undefeated team has been led by star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has matched his career-long streak of six straight games with at least 30 points.
Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Detroit and is averaging 33.6 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals per game on 56.9 percent shooting.
“It feels like he’s playing a lot of different places and playing with just a good rhythm and really an unselfish heart and it’s coming back to him,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Good things are happening.”
The Bucks are playing short-handed without Khris Middleton (left wrist surgery) and Pat Connaughton (calf), but players such as point guard Jrue Holiday have stepped up during the team’s hot start.
Holiday is averaging 28.3 points on 58.5 percent shooting over his last three games. The 14th-year pro ranks 10th in the league in assists at 7.6 per game.
“He’s just so underrated,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “I mean, it’s honestly pretty disrespectful at this point how good Jrue is and just how little attention he gets for it.”
Milwaukee has lost its last two meetings against Minnesota, which is 4-4 heading into the start of a four-game homestand.
The Wolves are looking to snap a two-game losing skid after falling 116-107 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
Minnesota entered the season with high expectations after acquiring center Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz, but the team’s starting unit has struggled to find its rhythm.
D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and Gobert appeared overmatched at times against Phoenix, which led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.
Russell is shooting a career-worst 39.4 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from 3-point range. He scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting in the loss to Phoenix.
“He’s just gotta stay confident in his shot,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “I saw him turning down some open looks out there. Just gotta stay confident. He’s a really, really good shooter.”
One bright spot has been Edwards, who is averaging 23.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 44.9 percent from the field.
Minnesota has also received a spark from backup center Naz Reid. The fourth-year pro had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three rebounds in nearly 16 minutes off the bench against the Suns.
Reid is making a case for increased playing time in the Wolves’ crowded frontcourt, which is led by a pair of established stars in Towns and Gobert.
“There were a couple early games where he didn’t get in. I just kept telling him to stay ready, stick with it,” teammate Jordan McLaughlin said. “It’s a long season and we’re going to need everybody on this team. He’s made the most of his playing time and opportunity every time he gets in games. So I’m happy for him.”
–Field Level Media