Last night, the Hawks got ran out of their building by a depleted Hornets roster. It was the most points they had given up all season and an indictment of their defense. Currently, the Hawks rank 24th in defensive rating (110.3).
However, defense has never really been where the Hawks bread is buttered. They win games by lighting up the scoreboard. Their offensive rating (112.7) and three-point percentage (37.8%) are second in the league. Just because they're .500 doesn't mean any team can sleep on them.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves remain on the fringes of the playoff picture. As always, their team goes as Karl-Anthony Towns goes. 'KAT' leads the Timberwolves with a clean 24 points and 9 rebounds per game. Only three other players in the league average more in those two categories; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis. Two of those three players have won the NBA MVP Award each of the previous three seasons.
Towns gets help from his best friend D'Angelo Russell, who averages 19 points and 6.4 assists per game. Additionally, Anthony Edwards is hitting his stride in his second season. Edwards averages 22 points on 42.8 FG%.
Much like the Hornets, the Timberwolves prefer an up-tempo style of play. Their 42.2 three-point attempts are narrowly edged out by the Jazz (42.3) for most in the NBA. But, unlike the Hornets (or Hawks), the Timberwolves can play defense too. Their defensive rating (105.5) is the fifth-best in the league.
The Timberwolves injury report lists several players. Jaden McDaniels (flu-like symptoms) is probable. Patrick Beverly (left adductor strain), Jaylen Nowell (back spasms), D'Angelo Russell (right ankle soreness), and Karl-Anthony Towns (tailbone soreness) are questionable.
The Atlanta Hawks continue to battle injuries. While we await the official injury report, we know the team will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic (left ankle sprain), De'Andre Hunter (right wrist tendon surgery), and Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery).
Keep in mind, Solomon Hill (right hamstring) left the game early last night. Not to mention, Trae Young (left knee soreness) and Kevin Huerter (left quad soreness) were both game-time decisions.
SI Sportsbook lists the Timberwolves as 2-point favorites. It's hard to argue with that given the Hawks recent play, travel schedule, and a rash of injuries.
After tonight, the Hawks will be 30% through the regular season schedule. It's safe to say that this is not the start they were hoping for after a joyous summer. Like the eight-hour Beatles documentary, the regular season is a long and winding road. The Hawks have time to fix the issues that ail them, but right now, they have to get back to the basics.