Back in action. The Timberwolves will be facing the Atlanta Hawks in the second game of this two-game road trip. The previous--yesterday's win over the New Orleans Hornets; 87-80. The Timberwolves have had just 10 healthy players for this road trip, as they're without key players: J.J. Barea & Michael Beasley (and of course three players that haven't played at all this season: Martell Webster, Malcolm Lee & Brad Miller). Minnesota currently sits at 4-7 on the year, while Atlanta is 8-4.
For the Hawks, they should be 'fresh' as they haven't played a game since Thursday: a 111-81 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, in there first game without starting center: Al Horford. Horford, of course, is out, likely for the season with a torn pectoral.
Before losing Horford, the Hawks really looked like contenders in the Eastern Conference. Without Al down low, I'm not sure they've retained that status. That being said, I think they'll still make the playoffs: on the backs of Josh Smith & Joe Johnson.
In the game vs. the Bobcats, the Hawks were led by J-Smoove himself, with 30pts & 13rebs & Joe J. with 23/7/8. In that game, they were without two swingmen: Marvin Williams & Tracy McGrady. Williams with a sprained left ankle and T-Mac with back spasms. Starters for that one: Teague, Johnson, Radmanovic, Smith & Pachulia. I haven't heard anything about T-Mac or Marvin, but I'd assume at least McGrady be able to go.
Against the Hornets, the Timberwolves were also debuting a different starting lineup. Rubio, Ridnour, Johnson, Love & Milicic. Ricky Rubio got his first career start and I wouldn't expect any changes to Ricky as Minnesota's starting point. Johnson, who had been struggling had a solid game with 9 points, 7 of which came in the first quarter. Love of course had another great game: 34pts & 15rebs!
For this one, Minnesota needs to contain the likes of Smith & Johnson if they want to win. A matchup of Smith & Love is definitely an intriguing one. An athletic, lengthy, high-flyer Josh Smith vs. a face-up shooting rebounding machine Kevin Love. Two players with entirely different styles, battling in the paint. We could also see a Johnson vs. Johnson matchup (Wes & Joe). I wouldn't expect this to be a great matchup, I just wanted to write Johnson vs. Johnson (twice!).
With Pachulia as the starting center, it'll be 'amusing' to watch him in Darko go at it. I'm also excited/hopeful to see Tracy McGrady. I only caught a couple Detroit games last season. And looking at the box scores for Atlanta this season, T-Mac's always gonna be fun to watch.
For our final score, I'm going with Minnesota by 3; 101-98. I'm not sure who Atlanta is going to get to score for them beyond Joe & Josh, but I'm feeling a close one, favoring Minnesota, moving them to 5-7 on the year.
That's all for now, thanks for reading. If you haven't already check out the pictures and recap from the Hornets game under the "Gameday" section as well as the newly completed "All-Time Roster" under the "History" section on this site (and A-Z of every TWolves player--EVER!). GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!