The Milwaukee Bucks will look to continue their strong start to the season when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee has won three of its first four games, including back-to-back, double-digit wins against the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers heading into Wednesday’s contest. The Bucks have averaged 122.3 points per game in their three victories, and they scored 95 points in their only loss.
The recent absence of Bucks center Brook Lopez, who has missed three straight games because of a back injury, has led the team to adopt more of a small-ball approach.
That has not always been easy for Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates, even if they are finding ways to win. Backup big man Bobby Portis also has been sidelined because of a left hamstring strain.
“It is different obviously without Brook, but still Brook spaces the floor very well (on offense),” said Antetokounmpo, who typically plays power forward but could see more action at center. “Defensively, it’s different, not having Brook present down there as a shot blocker and (with) offensive rebounds also.
“But at the end of the day, I feel like sometimes not having Brook out there is kind of hard for me. Should I go screen? Should I get out of the way? Should I go to the dunker? It has me second guess (my decisions) sometimes.”
Antetokounmpo has led the way despite feeling less comfortable without Lopez on the court. The superstar has averaged 24.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in his first four regular-season games since leading Milwaukee to an NBA championship last season.
Khris Middleton (21.3 points per game), Pat Connaughton (13.8) and Grayson Allen (13.3) also have been key components of the offense and could once again play a role in the Bucks’ smaller lineup.
After winning its first two games, Minnesota lost 107-98 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. The Timberwolves shot only 34.4 percent (31 of 90) from the field and 30 percent (15 of 50) from beyond the arc.
Second-year guard Anthony Edwards said three players — including himself, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell — deserved the blame for the loss. He challenged the trio to be more unselfish.
“We think we (are) the only ones on the team,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to be willing to pass the ball. There’s no ‘I’ in team. We can’t beat five people with three people. We beat five people with five people. We’ve got to be willing to play with our teammates.”
Towns leads the Timberwolves with 29.0 points per game to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Edwards is next on the scoring list with 25.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and Russell is third with 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Edwards said he wants to be more vocal in his second season.
“I don’t really talk too much as far as on the court,” he said. “I let my game lead. But now I see that I’m going to start talking more as far as, ‘You need to lock in, bruh. Pass the ball.’ Four people on you, pass the ball, know what I’m saying? I’m (planning to) start talking a lot more.”
The Bucks are 1-0 at home this season. This will be Minnesota’s first road game.