The Timberwolves are coming off a disappointing & narrow loss to the Denver Nuggets last night and tonight they'll have a chance to bounce back against the struggling Boston Celtics.
The Celtics started the year off terribly dropping four-straight games. In their following four games they went undefeated, before dropping their last two contests--the most recent being last night in Portland.
The Celtics will be seeking their third-straight road win while looking to avoid a third-straight loss overall. The Celtics held their opponents to 95 points or less in five of their first six games, but in their three of their last four games, they've allowed 105 points or more.
That may not change as they travel to the Target Center to take on the NBA's second-best offense, averaging 108.7 a game. The Timberwolves are seeking their fifth win in their last six home games--the only loss coming to the upstart Golden State Warriors.
The Wolves have been up-and-down this season and last night was most certainly a down as their defense was the worst we've seen this season. The Wolves will be looking to avoid a third loss in their last four games, but are still averaging 114.6 points and 40.7% from deep.
The Timberwolves offense has been lethal this season. Minnesota is the only team in the League with two of the NBA's Top 7 scorers (Love & Martin). Last night the Wolves finally got J.J. Barea & Dante Cunningham on track offensively and everyone in Minnesota is hoping that carries over. Barea's offensive production off the bench is vital for the Wolves this season and it makes them all the more dangerous while not allowing any drop-off when Adelman turns to his reserves.
The Timberwolves' last meeting vs. the Celtics in the regular season was on April 1st. That game snapped an 11-game losing streak to Boston as the Wolves won 110-100 thanks to a big night from Nikola Peković (29 points). Kevin Love has been the key to Minnesota's success this season, but in his NBA career, he has never won a game against the Boston Celtics, though he has missed 3 of the last 9 meetings between the Wolves & Celtics.
The Wolves also played this Boston squad in the preseason, here's the HOWL gameday recap of that one: TWolves Dazzle in Montreal; Easily Down Celtics 104-89.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineup...
The Celtics trotted out that starting lineup in their game last night, though they may look to switch it up tonight in Minnesota. There's absolutely no way that rookie big man Kelly Olynyk can deal with Nikola Peković in the paint. The Celtics may have to turn to Jared Sullinger or undrafted rookie Vitor Faverani to start at center and deal with Pek.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). Rookie Shabazz Muhammad didn't dress for last night's game in Denver due to an ankle injury, it's unknown if he'll be able to go tonight--we should find out an hour or so before tipoff--though it doesn't matter because he's not going to see the court unless it's a blowout, anyway.
The Celtics are without their star point guard Rajon Rondo as he continues to recover from the ACL injury. According to GM Danny Ainge, it sounds as though Rondo is targeting a December return.
I expect a bounce back game tonight and I'm fully anticipating big games from the core players. If the Wolves play defense like they did last night, you can forget all of that and expect another disappointing loss--when you allow any team to drive down the lane all night for easy buckets, you're going to have trouble ending that near-decade long playoff drought.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!