Heading into Saturday morning, the fortunes of the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves could hardly have been further apart. The 4-0 Bucks had swept through the season’s first week with relative ease, while the 2-3 T-Wolves remained mired in controversy and rumours of disengagement. Those rumours particularly linger in regard to the continued Jimmy Butler trade rumours.
The disjointed start to the season for Minnesota continued, as they were annihilated by the Bucks from start to finish. The Milwaukee starting five were afforded a rare light workload, as they sat out the fourth quarter, watching on while their team mates cruised to a 125-95 victory.
The extended rest will come as a welcomed boost for Milwaukee, who will make the short trip back home, before hosting the Orlando Magic tomorrow.
After missing Thursday mornings emphatic win over the Philadelphia 76ers with illness, Matthew Dellavedova was given the all clear by Mike Budenholzer to return to the active 13-man line-up. Thon Maker was also once again active, and Budenholzer spoke about the significance of the 7-foot-1 Aussie replacing Christian Wood over the past few games.
"They’re both capable, they’re both guys we have a lot of confidence in," Budenholzer said.
"It’s the rules, you can only dress 13 and we’re healthy. Thon’s been with the Bucks a long time and I’m excited about him and his future, the same with Christian, but you have to make a tough choice. Whichever one dresses I know will be ready and they may play, or they may not."
The action was sloppy early at the Target Center, before the Bucks finally found the range late in the first quarter, connecting on four straight 3-point looks to push the margin beyond double digits. That was as close as the game would get, with a restless home audience letting their voices be heard throughout the night.
Loud booing could be heard regularly, mixed in with some pointed advice for Butler, who may have been regretting his decision to play. A game-time decision with an ‘illness’, the All-Star guard finished with a meagre four points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.
Among the many suggestions being voiced from the crowd, one Wolves fan was heard yelling, “go sit down in Houston, Jimmy!” as Butler trudged to the bench.
Yep, it’s that ugly.
For Dellavedova and Maker, the blowout ensured they saw their first lengthy stint of the season, with both players seeing out the final ten plus minutes of the game. Maker checked into the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and wasted little time getting his first shot up, knocking down a corner three just 29 seconds after entering, on a ball that took a little convincing, before finally dropping.
A healthy percentage of Milwaukee fans filled the stands on Saturday morning, and they were making their presence felt as the game wound down. Loud chants of ‘Bucks in six’ could be heard over the continued smattering of boos from the Wolves fans who decided to hang around.
After Maker nailed his three, it was time for Delly to join in the fun, as he buried two catch-and-shoot long-range bombs within 18 seconds, to extend the lead to 114-86.
The Pick and Roll caught up with Dellavedova post game, and asked about the difficulties of maintaining his rhythm after sitting for three plus quarters.
“I mean, it was kind of looking like it was [blowing out] early, so I spent the third quarter on the bike just getting as loose as possible,” Dellavedova said.
“Once I got on, it’s just about playing the right way with the group on the floor and get some experience together.”
The two Aussies joined Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown and Tony Snell on the floor as the game wound down, a group that has largely been unused thus far in 2018-19. This has unquestionably been a unique position for the Boomers point guard, who rarely has found himself in the position of being a healthy scratch.
“We’re rolling right now. We’ve got a deep team and everyone is playing well, so I’m not worried, I’ve just got to be ready when my numbers called. [The bench group] have been putting in a lot of work with the coaches, working together at shoot around and off days. That keeps us in a good rhythm and keeps everyone’s game sharp.”
Dellavedova finished with six points and three assists, while Maker chipped in eight points and four rebounds.
Overall, it was another dominant performance by a Bucks team that has hardly shown any signs of fragility through the seasons early going. Navigating their way through a meeting with the Magic tomorrow would appear a mere formality, before they could face an undefeated Toronto Raptors unit on Tuesday morning.
Despite only playing 12 minutes on the night, Maker racked up four fouls in that time. Coach Budenholzer has regularly mentioned his desire to limit the amount of fouls his team commits, which has historically been an area of concern for the Bucks big man. Post game, Budenholzer gave his thoughts on Maker's time on the court.
"I don’t know about turning down the aggressiveness. Maybe [keep] playing aggressive, but smart, doing his work early and being in a better position," Budenholzer said. "It’s the end of the game and there’s some kind of funky things [going on], so I wouldn’t put too much into his four fouls. It was great to see him get in the game and make his first shot, make a corner three and get some finishes. It’s great for us to see Thon because he’s somebody that can help us."
Milwaukee v Orlando tips off at 11:30am (AEST) Sunday morning.