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Preview: Hawks host Wolves in MLK afternoon showdown

Atlanta Hawks v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is special for many reasons and, with only a few exceptions, the Atlanta Hawks host an annual matinee contest on the holiday. That is true in 2021, with the Minnesota Timberwolves visiting State Farm Arena on Monday.

The Hawks will look to bounce back from the wrong end of a back-to-back sweep over the weekend, though the team did perform better on Saturday evening. Atlanta’s offense has scuffled in recent days but, in short, this is a more favorable matchup — at least on paper — for the Hawks than against the Jazz and Blazers.

Minnesota enters with both the league’s worst net rating (-9.5 points per 100 possessions) and a dismal 3-8 record on the season, and the Wolves will be without their best player for this match-up. All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns recently announced that he tested positive for COVID-19, and that leaves the visiting team short-handed as they visit Atlanta. Minnesota will also be without Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez, with local product Josh Okogie listed as probable.

The Wolves are a porous defensive team so far this season, yielding 1.15 points per possession to their opponents. Minnesota’s defense could cure what ills Atlanta’s offense in this spot, and the Wolves are also a bottom-tier team in defensive rebound rate (70.7 percent). That issue is one to circle, particularly with Clint Capela and John Collins more than capable of cleaning up on the offensive glass.

On the Hawks side, the injury report is still busy, though the situation is improving. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kris Dunn remain sidelined, but the Hawks provided a relatively positive update on Danilo Gallinari over the weekend. The veteran forward is still listed as doubtful for Monday’s game with his ankle issue, however, and Cam Reddish (left knee contusion) is listed as questionable after missing Saturday’s game.

At the time of this post, the Hawks are 7.5-point favorites at home, indicating the expectation of an Atlanta win. That aligns with the available talent on both sides, but the home team must perform at a higher level to begin the week on a winning note.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Monday, Jan. 18, 2:30 pm ET

Location: State Farm Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)