Timberwolves-Hawks game preview: Karl-Anthony Towns could return to action

vs. Atlanta Hawks, Target Center, 7 p.m. Friday

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Jerry Zgoda's preview:

Opening bell: Each of the Western Conference's top 3 seeds remain possible for the Wolves, but they'll need some help from the Nuggets to still get No. 1 after Wednesday's loss at Denver. They can clinch the No. 2 if they beat at home both Atlanta and Phoenix on Sunday. If they win both and Denver and Oklahoma City each lose one of their last two games, the Wolves would be the No. 1 seed. If all three teams tie, the Thunder would be 1, the Wolves 2 and Nuggets 3. The Nuggets have San Antonio and Memphis left. The Thunder have Milwaukee on Friday and Dallas on Sunday, both at home.

Watch him: Hawks star Trae Young returned in Wednesday's 115-114 home loss to Charlotte after he missed 22 games following February ligament surgery on his right pinkie finger. He played on a minutes' restriction and wore bands on his ring and pinkie fingers. He went 5-for-5 from the floor, 2-for-2 on threes and scored 14 points in 21 minute

Injuries: The Wolves on Thursday listed star Karl-Anthony Towns as questionable after he was cleared on Tuesday to resume basketball activities. Coach Chris Finch said he'd like to get Towns in action before the playoffs. Hawks forward Jalen Johnson sprained his ankle Tuesday for a third time in a month and along with center Oneyeka Okongwu is out.

Forecast: The Wolves still are playing for playoff seeding while Atlanta is all but certain will be the East's 10th seed and play Chicago in the NBA Play-In Tournament now that it has lost four consecutive games. The Hawks rested their regulars in Wednesday's fourth quarter. Give the motivation edge to the home team.

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