This will be the 3rd and final meeting of the season between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the TD Garden tonight. The two teams met in the preseason up at the Bell Centre in Montreal back on October 20th and the Wolves came out on top 104-89. Back on November 16th in Minneapolis, the Wolves were yet again victorious over the Celtics with a 106-88 beating. The Celtics look like a team primed to stay on top in the Atlantic Division and looking to finally beat the Wolves and avoid getting swept by the for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Celtics had practiced yesterday with Rajon Rondo and they were embracing the fact that they can work on certain areas that need improvement. Brad Stevens had the team working on drills to take away the Wolves’ strengths and hope to apply them effectively in the game tonight.
Despite the Wolves have a 12-12 record and coming off of a win last night in Memphis, Brad Stevens knows not to take them lightly. The Wolves rank in the top 10 in many major categories. Kevin Love is going to be the main player on the Wolves to watch out for tonight as he is averaging a double-double per game this season with an average of 25 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. Ricky Rubio isn’t going to be light on the Celtics as well with his 8.2 assists per game.
One great that the Celtics have that can really hurt the Wolves will be defending the 3-point shooting. The Celtics have held their opponents to shooting 32.5 percent from beyond the arc, which is one of the best in the NBA. With the way Kevin Love has been shooting lately for the Wolves, it’s going to be vital that the Celtics keep defending the 3-point line well like they have been all season long. The Wolves as a team tend to rely a lot from their outside shooting and they’ve got great role players like Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea that can hit outside shots whenever they get open.
An area the Celtics will have to get better at will be the transition defense and that was worked on frequently during yesterday’s practice. The Wolves run one of the fastest paced offenses in the NBA, so the Celtics will have to be sure to set their defenses up quickly or they could find themselves in a lot of trouble very early. The Celtics faced the Denver Nuggets a few weeks ago and were able to beat them with their smothering defense and they will have to do the same in order to beat the Wolves.
Kris Humphries will be a game-time decision tonight after he has missed the last two games with a bruised right knee. He practiced yesterday without feeling any discomfort and it’s looking favorable that he will be able to play tonight, but that decision will be up to team doctor Ed Lacerte and coach Brad Stevens.
The Celtics look to improve their record against Western Conference opponents (2-7) and this game will not be only a must-win game, but it will be considered as a measuring-stick game as well. The Celtics had a lot of trouble facing the Wolves earlier in the season with the two losses, but the team has banded together very nicely and have a good chance at beating the Wolves as long as they stick to their game-plans and keep getting everybody involved.