NBA

Bucks, Timberwolves chasing playoff spots

MILWAUKEE -- If the playoffs were to start today, the Milwaukee Bucks would be in.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, the playoffs won't start for another month so instead of breathing a sigh of relief following a 99-85 victory over the Pacers Friday night that moved them into the eighth spot in the East, they will instead have to make a quick turnaround and prepare for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who come to the Bradley Center Saturday night.

Milwaukee is on a roll, having won a season-high five consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 27-Feb. 4, 2015.

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"It's a great feeling," center John Henson said. "We jumped to the eight spot (in the playoff race), we're a half-game ahead of Miami and the Bulls. So that's the goal, keep winning."

Henson played a big role in the Bucks' latest victory, a 99-85 decision over Indiana. He finished with eight points and four blocked shots in his first action since March 1.

"John was great," Kidd said. "He's a true pro. He hasn't played (recently), and been on ice. Not because he's done anything wrong, but (we have) (Thon) Maker and (Greg Monroe), and a lot of bigs. Tonight was a perfect example of being ready when your number is called."

Kidd and his young team are enjoying their current run -- which comes without Jabari Parker, out for the year with a torn ACL, or Michael Beasley, who is sidelined for at least another 10 days with a hyperextended left knee -- but is trying to keep their eye on the end goal.

"You just want to take one at a time," Kidd said. "Every game is going to be different. We are going to have some mystery quarters once and awhile. It could be the first, or it could be the third. It takes a team to do it, and that's what we're doing. It's not just Giannis (Antetokounmpo) doing it. Giannis is playing at a high level, Khris (Middleton) is playing at a high level, and a lot of other guys that are playing at a high level with them. We're winning as a team, and it's fun to watch."

The Timberwolves come to Milwaukee still trying to chase down a playoff spot, themselves. They've won four of their last five and eight of their last 11 to move within 2 1/2 games of eighth-place Denver, with two teams standing in between.

"We're learning and getting experience," point guard Ricky Rubio told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "These games mean a lot. We're playing some of the best teams right now. Last week I think was the best week we've played all year."

They're riding especially high after a 103-102 victory over top-seed Golden State Friday night in Minneapolis.

"It's up there," coach Tom Thibodeau told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "For us, I think it's a good measuring stick. As we're going down the stretch, there's a lot of head-to-head stuff. ... It teaches you a lot. That's the important thing for us to improve is to go through those situations. And you also learn from them."

The Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bucks with a 116-99 victory in the Twin Cities on Dec. 30 but have lost their last two contests in Milwaukee.