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Atlanta Hawks Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Hawks Head North Without Marvin Williams And Maurice Evans

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The Atlanta Hawks (5-0) look to extend their unbeaten streak to six when they take on the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves (1-4) on Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis.  Normally, the Hawks' quest to remain the lone unbeaten team in Eastern Conference would have suffered a severe setback on Thursday when the club learned that forward Marvin Williams would miss the contest with a bruised right knee.

With swingman Maurice Evans already out with a knee injury and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford a game-time decision due to a turf toe injury, most NBA clubs would be able to exploit Atlanta's lack of depth to their advantage.

Luckily for Atlanta, they are not just playing any NBA team -- they are facing the T-Wolves.

Minneapolis resembles a franchise that would be dumb enough to offer defensive-minded Darko Milicic a four-year, $20 million contract this offseason.  Milicic, who is considered one of the biggest draft busts in history, has rewarded the T-Wolves with a scintillating start to kick off his new deal.  The 7-foot-1 Serbian wonder is shooting a super-fantastic 14.2-percent from the field (4-for-22) while anchoring a defense that has allowed an average of 113.6 points per game this season.

Minnesota is coming off of its worst loss in franchise history, a 128-86 drubbing at the hands of the Orlando Magic.  Milicic lead the way for the woeful Wolves in that one, finishing 0-for-6 from the field.  The Timberwolves also played that one without their second-leading scorer, F Michael Beasley, who has averaged 13.8 points per game this year.  He missed that one with a sore left hip.

The loss capped a three-game road trip for the Wolves, who also dropped 129-97 decision to the Miami Heat and suffered a 109-89 setback to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Things won't get much easier for Minnesota against an Atlanta team that has held the Timberwolves to less than 100 points in each of the clubs' last 11 matchups. Thus, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Wolves haven't beaten the Hawks at home since the Republicans last controlled the House of Representatives in 2006.

Perhaps Tuesday's switch of Congress' lower body back to the GOP will help guide Minnesota to victory.

Ummmm. Maybe not.

Beside the fact that the new Congress will not be seated until January, Hawks guard Joe Johnson absolutely owns the T-Wolves, averaging 22.8 points per game over his last six games of the series.  And things can go from bad to worse if Crawford plays.  He poured in a game-high 26 points in Atlanta's 112-87 demolition of Minnesota last season in Minneapolis.

Look for the athletic and experienced Hawks to run all over the Timberwolves and return home to face the Phoenix Suns on Sunday undefeated.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.