Dec 28, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) drives the ball to the basket as Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilasova (right) defends during the first quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Bucks-Wolves Preview: A Battle Of Fur-Bearing, Northwoods Creatures

Despite a disappointing 31-31 record, the Wolves’ Kevin Love has been one of the league’s top performers.

Who’s playing?

The Milwaukee Bucks (13-50) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (31-31)

Where are they playing?

The Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota

When are they playing?

Tuesday, March 11. 7:00 PM ET.

What’s at stake?

Milwaukee is still seeking its first winning streak of the season, with Monday’s win over Orlando setting the stage for yet another opportunity. As indicated by their record, the Bucks are 0-13 following victories this season.

The Wolves find themselves on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff picture. At 31-31, they’d be the seventh seed in the East, but Minnesota trails Memphis and Phoenix by five games for the eighth and final playoff spot with 20 games remaining.

Did the Wolves win their last game?

False. Toronto topped Minnesota 11-104 on Sunday, despite 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists from Kevin Love. Kyle Lowry had a triple-double for Toronto.

Who’s their best player?

Yes, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is on the roster, but we’re going to go with Kevin Love here. In 59 games, Love is averaging 26.5 points, 13.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists, single-handedly, at times, keeping Minnesota afloat.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

A better question is who isn’t hot for the Bucks? Brandon Knight is coming off of his second straight 20+ point game, while Khris Middleton paced Milwaukee with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in Monday’s victory over Orlando. So… yeah, maybe that’s about it, but TWO players on this team are excelling at the same. Brings a tear to the eye.

What’s the key matchup?

I’m not going to beat around the bush here: The key matchup is Kevin Love versus whoever is guarding Kevin Love. His inside-outside presence is unparalleled among power forwards, and Milwaukee will need to be cognizant of Love’s location on the floor at all times to avoid what happened when these teams met on Dec. 28 (33 points, 15 rebounds, six assists).

What’s the injury situation?

Bucks: Carlos Delfino (foot) and Larry Sanders (face) are out; Ekpe Udoh (ankle) is a game-time decision.

Wolves: Ronny Turiaf (knee) and A.J. Price (appendectomy) are out.

What happened last time?

The Wolves won 117-95 at the Bradley Center on Dec. 28.

When do they play again?

They don’t.

Do they have any players who are pals with Miroslav Raduljica?

Funny you should ask. Yes, yes they do. I’ve been waiting to deploy this badboy for a long time.

sp-pekovic-i-raduljica

Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic and Milwaukee’s Miroslav Raduljica are both natives of Serbia and Montenegro.

Projected starters

Wolves

C – Nikola Pekovic

PF – Kevin Love

SF – Corey Brewer

SG – Kevin Martin

PG – Ricky Rubio

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – Ersan Ilyasova

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Nate Wolters

PG – Brandon Knight

Team per game rankings

Wolves

Scoring: 4th (106.2)

Scoring defense: 21st (102.5)

Rebounding: 2nd (45.6)

Assists: 8th (23.3)

Bucks

Scoring: 29th (94.3)

Scoring defense: 22nd (102.5)

Rebounding: 25th (41.4)

Assists: 18th (21.1)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.2), Love (26.5)

Assists: Knight (5.0), Rubio (8.5)

Rebounds: Henson (7.6), Love (13.1)

Blocks: Henson (2.0), Turiaf (1.7)

PER: Henson (17.9), Love (28.2)

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