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Atlanta Hawks (35-20) Minnesota Timberwolves (14-44) Game Preview

The Hawks return home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves after finishing up a 2-2 road trip. The T-Wolves come into the game fresh off a victory over Miami minus Dwayne Wade who is still sitting out due to injury. The Home environment should energize the Hawks since they have not played at home since before the All Star Break. Atlanta will be looking to extend its winning streak over the T-Wolves to eight games having last defeated them earlier this season 112-87 in Minnesota.

One of the things I will be looking for in tonight’s game is Minnesota’s adaptation of the Triangle Offense. Being an X’s and O’s guy I have been studying Tex Winter’s Triangle that was used in Chicago and Los Angeles under Phil Jackson. Kurt Rambis who is a former assistant under Phil Jackson with the Lakers took over the Minnesota job and has taken the Triangle Offense with him. There are not a lot of advertised systems in the NBA like there is in college. Basically the only ones that I am familiar with are the Triangle and Mike D’Antoni’s 7 seconds or less offense that the Suns still use to a degree. No I wouldn’t include Woody’s iso driven offense in this discussion.

One of the things I often here when a team struggles running the Triangle is that they don’t have the correct personnel to run it. After spending some time on this offense I don’t think you really need set type of personnel to run the offense. You just need players that are fundamentally sound and who know how to move without the ball. Where personnel issues come in for example is when a team has a point guard that likes to create and have the ball in his hands all the time or is not comfortable moving without the ball. I think this is one of the areas that the T-Wolves have struggled with because it has been a vast change for their point guards particularly rookie Johnny Flynn. The Triangle asks players to be universal. Anyone can post, cut, or spot up in this offense.

On the surface the Triangle isn’t a very difficult offense to set up. The problem lies in a team functioning as one entity on the floor. The various options are mixed in based on how the defense reacts. Every player that is running the offense must read the defense and act accordingly. Players must trust each other and they must trust the offense. Its a very team building concept which is very different from a lot of systems in the NBA and I believe it was a key component in the Chicago Bulls dynasty.

From a bloggers standpoint tonight Jason Walker of The Human Highlight Blog will be at Phillips Arena to witness the action up close and personal and I will be looking forward to hearing his thoughts on the game. Also if you are looking for a Minnesota Point of View please check out Derrick Willis’ blog Dunking with Wolves that is part of the FanSided Network.

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