Exactly one month ago (Nov. 16th) the Minnesota Timberwolves' "Big Three" of Love, Martin & Pek dumped in 20+ points apiece en-route to a 106-88 win over the Celtics at the Target Center. They moved to 7-4 at that time with the win.
A month later, the Timberwolves are sitting at .500 on the season (12-12) and are fresh off a good win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday evening that saw Kevin Love do a little bit of everything for the win.
Love started the season REALLY hot and had some really terrific games, however after the first couple of weeks he started to run out of steam. He was still putting up 20-10 games, but he looked like a shell of the player we saw to start the season. He was still putting up great numbers, but it wasn't translating to team success and watching him on the court, it just didn't seem like he was playing with the same energy.
Since Love's grandmother sadly passed away, he's been on a tear. He's playing with more energy and more heart and, at least last night in Memphis that was parlayed into a Timberwolves win. There's no doubt that Minnesota's nightly success will usually hinge on how Love plays, but as long as he continues to give it his all, the Wolves will be in very good shape going forward.
That holds especially true considering the only other reliable offensive option this season has been his fellow big man Nikola Peković. Pek consistenly puts up his 15-20 points and 7-11 rebounds a night. Unfortunately fellow starters Ricky Rubio & Corey Brewer's offense seem to come and go. Fortunately, Rubio's offense has been 'on' as of late and we know Brewer will always get at least a couple easy fast break opportunities a night.
The biggest problem the past few games has been the second half of the duo the "Kevins". Kevin Love has been fantastic lately, while his running mate Martin has been the complete antithesis. Martin has been B-A-D lately. His poor performances these past few games were nothing compared to the 'stinker' he unveiled last night in Memphis where he played just 19 minutes and finished with 0 points on 0-for-3 shooting. Adelman said after the game that Martin told him he was "hurting" and asked to come out in the second half. Rick ultimately decided with tonight's game in Boston to hold him out for the remainder of the game. The couple times that they showed Martin on the bench, it was clear he was "hurting" with what I would assume to be more of an illness than injury. No update on his condition as of this morning, but if he's unable to go, Robbie Hummel will likely draw another start and that'll also mean more time for Barea & Shved.
A win in Boston tonight would be Minnesota's first since March of 2005 and it would also sweep the season series--something the Wolves have not done since the 1999-2000 season. A win tonight would also mean a three-game winning streak over the Celtics, which would be the longest since streak since the Wolves won five-straight over the Celtics during a span that stretched from the 1997-1998 season to the 2000-2001 season.
At 11-14 the Boston Celtics are currently the fourth seed in the insanely horrible eastern conference (they're so bad they get no capitalization). If the Timberwolves were an eastern conference team their 12-12 record would have them tied with the Hawks for the three seed. Instead, they're tenth in the Western Conference and on the outside looking in at the Top 8 seeds.
Despite being 3 games under .500 this is definitely overachieving for this Boston Celtics squad playing without their best player Rajon Rondo due to his continued rehab of his ACL surgery as well as the fact that they traded away Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett this summer.
One thing this Celtics squad has going for them is their defense. They allow just 95.7 points per game which is good enough for 5th in the NBA. However, if the Celtics win a game it's usually by a pretty close margin. Of Boston's 11 wins, just 4 have come by 10 points or more, highlighted by that big 41-point win over rival their rival New York Knicks a week ago. However when they lose it definitely varies. They've lost 6 of their 14 games by 10 points or more and 12 of their 14 by 7 points or more.
The last time these two teams met it was the advantage in the frontcourt that decided the game. Kevin Love & Nikola Peković have been consistently good this past week and there's no reason to doubt that, that should change tonight in Boston against Jared Sullinger, Vitor Faverani, Kelly Olynyk & Kris Humphries.
The last time these two teams met the Wolves held Boston's leading scorer Jeff Green to just 2 points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field. If they can replicate that kind of success with Brewer & (now) Mbah a Moute against Green defensively, there's a good chance they'll come out victorious in this one. Holding him in check will be a big key to a Timberwolves victory.
Tonight's game will tip at a slightly earlier 6:30pmCST time, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!