Thursday, January 20 2022

The Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves will both be trying to end a two-game losing streak when they meet on Monday in Minneapolis.

Atlanta has dropped two straight and lost three of its last four. The Hawks were beaten 130-127 by the short-handed Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.

Minnesota returns from a two-game road trip that saw them lose both games, including a 110-105 decision vs. Brooklyn on Friday. The Timberwolves have won their last five games at home.

This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. Atlanta won both games last season and has won the last three contests.

Minnesota has been at its best when playing at high level on defense. The Timberwolves are 7-2 when holding the opposition to fewer than 100 points. It happened in five straight games in November. The defense is important for a franchise that has made the playoffs only five times in the last 21 seasons.

“They’re ready to turn the page to another point in their career and they are very focused on playoffs, opportunities, team success, doing all the things you need to do to win at a higher level on every given night,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said.

Part of the Timberwolves’ success can be attributed to former No. 1 draft pick Anthony Edwards, who is averaging 22 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He scored a career-high 48 points against Golden State on Nov. 10 to become the fifth-youngest player in NBA history to score 45-plus points.

D’Angelo Russell averages 19 points and 6.4 assists, but he was listed as questionable for Monday due to right ankle soreness. Karl-Anthony Towns missed the Nets game with a bruised tailbone and will be evaluated on game day. Towns averages 24.0 points and nine rebounds and has a history of success against the Hawks; he scored a career-high 56 against Atlanta in 2018. But Towns did not play in either game against Atlanta last season because of COVID protocols.

Atlanta’s defense was suspect on Sunday against the Hornets, who made 17 3-pointers and prevented the Hawks from getting into rhythm offensively.

“I mean, we scored 127 points, so that’s more than enough to win the game,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said on Sunday. “It comes down to defensively being able to stop them and we weren’t able to do it. … You’ve got to give them credit. They’re the highest-scoring team in the league, they’re the best catch-and-shoot team, they’re first in 3-point percentage, so it wasn’t that the defense wasn’t there. They were better.”

Trae Young had 25 points and 15 assists on Sunday, the 71st 20/10 double-double of his career. He also became the youngest Hawk to score 5,500 points (23 years, 75 days) and the fastest in term of games played (227).

John Collins had 31 points and 12 rebounds against the Hornets and has scored 10-plus in 12 straight games for the fifth time in his career.

Atlanta will be trying to avoid its third back-to-back sweep of the season. The Hawks have two sweeps, two splits and lost both games in back-to-backs this season.

–Field Level Media

Source: Yahoo Sports

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