Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks, 1/21/13

MLK DaySetting the stage:

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Timberwolves will play against the Atlanta Hawks.  In what has become a longstanding tradition for the NBA, Monday’s game will be played in the afternoon given the Martin Luther King holiday.

The Wolves travel to Atlanta off a … baffling (?) astonishing (?)  miraculous (?) … surprising win on Thursday night against the Rockets, moving their record to 17-20 on the season.  Despite being severely undermanned, the Pups completely outplayed the Rockets throughout the game and were led by AK47 and two players that weren’t even in the NBA 24 hours prior to tipoff.  Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson played significant minutes and made significant contributions in the team’s win.

January has not been kind to the Hawks.  They have lost 8 of their first 11 games this month, including the loss in Minnesota on 1/8.  They have dropped to the six seed in the East and their record coming into Monday’s game is 22-18.  This past Friday the team announced that they have lost Lou Williams for the season with a torn ACL.  This puts more pressure on Jeff Teague and Devin Harris to come through and carry their backcourt the rest of the way.

Player to watch:

Josh Smith – Which Josh Smith shows up is likely the key to this game.  Will we see the efficient player that can look like an all-world athlete or we see the player that falls in love with jump shots and long range bombs?  Josh has the potential to be a double-double machine but takes nights off and isn’t always “there” when on the court.  We’ll probably see AK47 on Smith much more than DWill.

Match-up to watch:

Greg Stiemsma vs. Al Horford.  Horford is putting up approximately 15 & 10 this season and will be a handful for Stiemsma to try to contain.  A “small”, quick center like Horford could give the Greg fits around the basket.  With Nikola Pekovic sidelined, it will be important for Stiemsma to be able to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble.

Predictions:

I have no idea what to expect night in and night out anymore from the Wolves, so take this with a grain of salt.

Final score prediction: Twolves 96, Hawks 91

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Derrick Williams
  2. Andrei Kirilenko
  3. Al Horford

Let’s go Wolves!