by Ya Mudda
Tonight the Minnesota Timberwolves look to win another one at home (I know, I can’t believe it either!) when they are visited by an Atlanta Hawks team looking to build some momentum of their own after having been derailed recently. The Hawks come off a 24 point win over the Celtics but they have lost four of their last six which includes losses to the aforementioned Celtics as well as the Nets. The majority of these games have come with Jeff Teague out of the line up due to injury and he will be active tonight against the Wolves. The Hawks are boosted by a now healthy Thabo Sefolosha who was huge for them last night against the Celtics picking up 15 points on 7-8 shooting to go along with three steals and three blocks.
The Timberwolves meanwhile are coming off a scratchy win against the 76ers. The 76ers lead most of the game until a late surge by Maple Jordan pulled out the win for the Timberwolves. Wiggins is averaging 25.2 in his last 5 games and is looking like he’s ready to make the next step already. Elsewhere Ricky Rubio’s return has sparked the defense like I thought it would and while it may not reflect in the box score his man to man defense has been great so far for the year, expect this to continue tonight. The offense for defense change that coach Mitchell made last game will get another go with Martin starting next to Rubio in the backcourt, one would hope Martin has the green light to jack it from anywhere.
Expect this one to be a tight one with some exciting matchups all over the floor. The Hawks are an elite team in the east and I expect them to try and assert themselves over the young pups early on but Wiggins has shown he has some fight and grit in him to grind out hard games. This one should not be a blow out, although I could be wrong.
Match-ups to watch:
KARL vs. Horford: Last time these two faced off KARL should have worn a suit and tie because he was giving Horford the business, holding him to 5-15 shooting while scoring seventeen points in the process. More of the same to come tonight as KARL is just improving with each passing game.
Rubio vs. Teague: This one is going to be slippery; both of these guys are crafty competitors who largely dictate how their team plays. Teague is one of the fastest guys in the league especially in the open floor and it’s going to be a challenge for Ricky to contain him.
Wiggins vs. Sefolosha: Sefolosha is a top tier defender but Maple Jordan has been on a tear recently, especially in the clutch and should this game become a tight affair, we can bet on seeing Sefolosha on Wiggins down the stretch. Sefolosha is the only defender that the Hawks can throw at Wiggins with Bazemore most likely out tonight, expect Wiggins to feast on the Hawks.
Lavine vs. Schroder: Schroder’s game is slightly underrated, he’s only scoring 11 points per game on 41% shooting, his FG% has dropped over the last few games as he was inserted into the starting lineup and was facing legit starting point guards. Being on the bench best suits his game and he is going to enjoy going up against the Timberwolves’ reserves. Lavine has been lackadaisical on defense recently and barely trying, Schroder possess the same speed as Teague and has a quick first step, he may not be a very good finisher but he will walk past Zach. Offensively Zach hasn’t been bad at all, seems like he’s turning the corner, I can’t believe it either, maybe he will be good after all. Doubtful.