LIVE: Minnesota Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks


7:30 PM ET
Minnesota Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

When and where: November 25, 2019, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA, 7:30 PM ET

The Atlanta Hawks will try to put an end to a six-game losing streak on Monday when hosting the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. Not even a triple-double from Trae Young was enough to save the Hawks from losing to the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Saturday. They’ll try to turn it around against a Timberwolves team coming off back-to-back home losses to the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Minnesota has lost four of their last five games.

No Covington, no excuses for the Timberwolves

There’s a tendency to go straight to the goose egg sitting next to Noah Vonleh’s name in the box score when attempting to make sense of the Timberwolves losing at home to an undermanned Suns team. Don’t do it.

There are no excuses for the Timberwolves missing crucial free throws and turning the ball over 14 times. The Suns shot a sad 34.4 percent from the floor and still managed to come away with the win. Robert Covington’s offensive presence was obviously missed, but Karl-Anthony Towns also has to step up and close the deal. The Suns were down two big-men and playing small-ball all night long.

It never felt like the Towns takeover game most expected it would be.

That isn’t to suggest he didn’t play a good game. There’s a ton of space between good and great when talking about a potential NBA superstar. Towns hopes to inch closer to great in Monday’s game against a Hawks team that ranks as the fourth-worst in the league in defensive efficiency. He’ll need a better effort from Andrew Wiggins than averaging 41 percent shooting from the floor in back-to-back games.

Covington is no longer on the injury report, which could be an indication of him returning on Monday. He is averaging 12.9 points per game with a 46.8 field goal shooting percentage. That sort of presence is a huge upgrade over Vonleh.

On the defensive end of the court, the Timberwolves should be able to shine against a team that lacks bench depth and explosive scoring options.

Young continues to impress during the losing stretch

You won’t find second-year point guard Trae Young with his head down during the Hawks’ six-game losing streak. He recorded the second triple-double of his NBA career in Saturday’s loss to the Raptors, finishing with an astonishing 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It was an impressive feat considering it came against a top-10 defensive team.

A similar effort might be needed to fend off the Timberwolves on Monday. After getting embarrassed by Suns guard Devin Booker, you can rest assured the Timberwolves will do all they can to shut down Young. It won’t be easy considering he’s a legitimate Swiss army knife capable of doing so many things for the Hawks. His hustle on the floor is unrivaled, and he’s going to pose some real problems for Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague.

But it’s all offense and no defense for the Hawks.

They rank in the bottom-half of the league in efficiency and points allowed. The team also lacks the big-man defensive presence to challenge Towns in the paint. Minnesota is the No. 3-ranked rebounding team in basketball, while the Hawks have looked anemic on the boards. The Hawks aren’t winning any games if a 6-foot-1 Young is their best rebounder.

The Timberwolves will actually play like they’re the better team on paper.

This is another opportunity for Towns to take over a game and carry the team on his back. The Hawks have looked pedestrian on the boards, while the Timberwolves have feasted on rebounds on both ends of the court. Don’t expect to see Young snag 10 rebounds in a second consecutive game. It was an impressive feat to marvel at on the highlight reel, but that kind of effort won’t be sustainable.

The biggest problem for the Hawks is their lack of offensive help coming off the bench. There isn’t that second wave to take some of the pressure off Young, John Collins and Jabari Parker. Young can turn a regular basketball game into a Harlem Globetrotters show, but he can’t carry an undermanned roster to the Promised Land. Towns will dominate in the paint , while Wiggins steps up his game against a Hawks team that doesn’t have much to offer on defense. I’m taking the Timberwolves to hand the Hawks a seventh straight loss and get back on the winning track.

Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves (-4)

The Timberwolves are averaging 101.7 points per game in their last three outings. It’s an ugly average considering they’re one of the league’s top-10 scoring offenses. A better effort from Wiggins combined with the return of Covington should be a huge lift. Towns will also have his way with a Hawks team that lacks legitimate size on defense to pose any real threat towards him.

Young’s mere presence on the court in Atlanta is like a rock concert. Even against good defensive teams like the Raptors, he has a knack for making seemingly impossible plays. You can bank on him keeping the offense rolling on Monday. Give me the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (234)

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