The visiting Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks will both be seeking their first back-to-back wins of the young season when they meet on Monday night.
The Hawks hammered the Milwaukee Bucks 127-110 on Sunday night and will be playing their first back-to-back. Minnesota, which won all five of its preseason games only to lose the regular-season opener, defeated the Miami Heat 106-90 on Saturday.
This will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Timberwolves swept both games last season, winning 136-115 in Atlanta and 125-124 in Minneapolis.
The Hawks are playing their first full season under coach Quin Snyder, who wants to see better defense and better perimeter shooting from his team.
“It’s not like we have a new system or a new coach,” Atlanta guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “There are a lot of new things we’re working on to try to be better at the end of the season. These games at the beginning are just as important. It’s hard to work on things and then make them work automatically in the game.”
Much depends on the efforts of guard Trae Young, who has had a slow offensive start. Young is averaging 20.3 points — he scored 20 on Sunday — and 10.7 assists.
Young has been a handful for the Timberwolves. In 10 career games against Minnesota, Young is averaging 32.6 points, 9.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds. But Dejounte Murray’s averages aren’t great against the Timberwolves — 11.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 12 games.
Atlanta showed great balance on Sunday with eight players scoring in double figures, including a season-high 17 points from Bogdanovic, who made four 3-pointers.
“It was a good night for us,” Bogdanovic said. “We expect it to be even better the next few games.”
The Timberwolves revolve around Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert and are considered a contender in the Western Conference.
“We have size. We have guys that can move their feet. We have guys that are dogs, competitors,” Gobert said. “Those three things, you put them together, why wouldn’t you want us to be the best defensive team in the league with all those weapons?”
It will be a homecoming for Edwards. He grew up in Atlanta and spent one season at the University of Georgia before being the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2020. He had a 32-point game against the Hawks last season.
Edwards scored 19 points in Saturday’s win. Gobert had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Towns, who scored what was then a franchise-best 56 points in a game against the Hawks in 2018, added 12 points and 10 rebounds against Miami.
Naz Reid, who signed a three-year, $42 million contract this past summer to stay with Minnesota, came off the bench to provide energy and lead the Timberwolves against Miami with 25 points in 28 minutes. He had eight rebounds and was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers.
“Each and every year I’ve gotten better, so there was definitely no reason for me to leave, you know?” Reid said. “I appreciate all the love.”
The Timberwolves have been without Jaden McDaniels, who has a strained left calf and has missed the first two games. The Hawks are missing guard Wesley Matthews, who is out with a right calf strain.