Timberwolves in battle for top seed in West, take on Hawks

Field Level Media

April 11, 2024 at 11:16 pm.

The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to have one of their stars back and will try to bounce back from a disappointing loss when they tip off against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night in Minneapolis.

Minnesota (55-25) is coming off a 116-107 loss on the road against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. The Timberwolves fell one game behind the Nuggets in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with two games to play.

Timberwolves guard Mike Conley said he and his teammates refused to give up hope on grabbing the No. 1 seed, and all they could control was winning their final two games.

“I’d love to have the one seed, I’m not going to lie,” Conley said. “But I also said that it doesn’t matter what seed you’ve got, you’re going to play a dog in the first round.”

Atlanta (36-44) is looking to break out of a slump as it approaches the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks sit in 10th place in the conference, and they trail the ninth-place Chicago Bulls by 1 1/2 games entering Thursday’s play.

Hawks guard Trae Young returned to action Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets. Young finished with 14 points and 11 assists in 21 minutes, but the Hawks lost 115-114 on their home court.

Young, who had been out because of a torn ligament in his left pinkie, reported no issues.

“It feels good,” Young said. “My hand feels good.”

Hawks coach Quin Snyder kept Young on a minutes restriction to play it safe.

“He seemed comfortable to me,” Snyder said.

Another All-Star is set to make his return on Friday.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been sidelined since March 4 because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, reportedly is set to play against the Hawks as he gears up for the postseason. Towns’ status was upgraded to questionable on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Towns is averaging 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds this season. He is shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Towns ranks second in scoring on Minnesota behind Anthony Edwards, who is averaging 26.3 points per game as well as 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Rudy Gobert ranks third in scoring with 13.7 points to go along with a team-high 12.9 rebounds.

Young is tops on the Hawks with 26.1 points and 10.8 assists per game. Dejounte Murray (22.5 points per game) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (16.9) round out their top three scorers.

Gobert acknowledged that some players on the Timberwolves are feeling fatigue as the regular season approaches its end. The former Utah Jazz player said everyone needed to press on with the goal of making a run at a championship.

“We have to play through it,” Gobert said. “There’s going to be fatigue in the postseason, too. We’re going to have to find it deep inside. Each one of us is going to have to find it and (is) going to have to do what it takes for the team to win.”

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