It has been more than a week since the Atlanta Hawks won a basketball game, and the goodwill created with a five-game winning streak has seemingly evaporated from a somewhat jittery fan base. However, the Hawks are set to hit the road in order to square off with Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, and this is a game that they desperately need.
The Hawks were able to grab a 7-point victory over Minnesota back on February 1st at Philips Arena, but that seems like a lifetime ago, and there were some issues even in the win. The aforementioned Kevin Love went crazy against the Atlanta front line to the tune of 43 points and 19 rebounds, and the Hawks needed a 24-point explosion from Kyle Korver (on 9 field goal attempts!) in order to hold serve at home.
Still, the T-Wolves are languishing below .500 at 34-35 after a loss to Memphis on Monday, and they have been effectively eliminated from the playoff chase, making this game a manageable one for Atlanta. The Hawks will reportedly be without Kyle Korver in this one (he didn't travel to Minnesota) and that is a gaping loss, but with the way that Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack have stepped up at various points, the task isn't impossible even without Kyle available.
The match-up to watch is clearly Paul Millsap against Kevin Love at the power forward spot, but beyond that, the Jeff Teague-Ricky Rubio battle could be must-see TV, especially given how well Rubio has played at times in the recent past. The 6-foot-4 point guard has the length and defensive acumen to give Teague problems, and there are certainly times when Jeff's play is the barometer for the entire Atlanta offense. In addition, this is a big-time homecoming for reserve big man Mike Muscala, who is from the area and should hopefully see some time as a change of pace against the Minnesota front line.
With the Knicks nipping at their heels, the Hawks could really use a win to kick off this back-to-back stretch that includes the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers, and this late in the season, every possession matters. Stay tuned for coverage throughout the day.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, March 26, 8:00 p.m.
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM