Doc Rivers is making his home debut Thursday night as the Milwaukee Bucks coach against the Minnesota Timberwolves after a trying road trip.
The schedule doesn't lighten up at all for the Bucks (33–18), who just went 1–4 out West following Tuesday's loss to the Phoenix Suns and now host the Timberwolves (35–16), who are in a three-way tie atop the Western Conference. Minnesota kicked off a five-game road trip of its own with an overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.
The Bucks were shorthanded a few nights ago in Phoenix without Damian Lillard (ankle) or Brook Lopez (personal). Lopez is set to return from a three-game absence, Lillard is questionable and Khris Middleton (ankle) has been ruled out. The Timberwolves have a clean bill of health heading into their first of two matchups with Milwaukee.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Best Bet: Timberwolves +1.5 (-118)
Bold Prediction: Anthony Edwards Records a Double-Double
The T-Wolves blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead Tuesday against the Bulls despite 38 points and 12 rebounds from Anthony Edwards and an additional 33 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Coby White and DeMar DeRozan each contributed 33 points for Chicago in a 129–123 victory, which was the third-most points Minnesota, the league's top-ranked scoring defense, has allowed all season.
Edwards and Towns combined for 12 of the team's 20 made threes, which has been a strength for Timberwolves all season, but the Bucks enter this matchup with one of the league's best three-point defenses.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points and 10 boards Tuesday for his 39th double-double, but it wasn't enough with two starters missing — three after Middleton left early in the first quarter. The 114–106 defeat was a welcome end to a grueling road trip. Milwaukee fell to 12–13 in away games but its 21–4 record at Fiserv Forum is tied for the second-best in the NBA. Perhaps a friendly environment can help the Bucks, who are 5–5 over their last 10, return to form but their laundry list of injuries might be too much to overcome, especially against such a stout defense.
Minnesota has performed admirably as an underdog this season with a 7–5 record against the spread, though that falls to 4–5 on the road. On the other hand, Milwaukee has struggled as a favorite no matter the venue with a dismal 18–27–1 record against the spread on the year and just a 10–14–1 mark at home. What's more, back-to-back losses are a rarity for the Timberwolves as they've only lost two in a row twice this season, something the Bucks have done five times already and twice in the last two weeks.
Milwaukee does have a true home court advantage, but the disparity in availability makes Minnesota the pick to spoil Rivers's home debut. Take the 1.5 points just to be safe as the T-Wolves and Bucks have both had plenty of games come down to the wire.
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