Monday night the Minnesota Timberwolves will be facing a team that has even more players on their injury report and that's no April Fools!
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to play without Kevin Love (hand), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). Nikola Pekovic missed the Wolves' last outing (Saturday in Memphis) with a sprained ankle and is status for tonight's game is currently unknown.
The Boston Celtics may be without three of their..."Big Three". Rajon Rondo is out with that ACL injury. Kevin Garnett has been ruled out for the remainder of this week as he continues to sit with 'inflammation' in his ankle. Paul Pierce may also be out for this one. He turned his ankle in the game on Sunday and Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said Pierce will likely sit out today's game. Rookie forward Jared Sullinger is also out with a back injury that required season-ending surgery.
While the Timberwolves have fallen out of the playoff picture as yet another Timberwolves season comes to a merciless end. The Celtics on the other hand are still battling to improve their seeding in the Eastern Conference. A top 4 seed and home court advantage is quite likely out of the question (#4 Brooklyn is currently 4 games ahead), however Boston currently sits at #7 and just 2.5 games behind the #5 Chicago & #6 Atlanta and just 2.5 games ahead of #8 Milwaukee.
The Celtics have been doing themselves any favors with their play as of late. Boston has lost six of their last eight games as well as six of their last seven road games. A big part of that can probably be attributed to behing without their big man Kevin Garnett. With KG in the lineup, Boston has struggled on the boards.
Kevin Garnett's absence has given Jeff Green a chance to shine and he's delivered. Green is averaging 20.2ppg on 52.5% FG in his last 10 contests. If the Celts are without Garnett AND Pierce, they'll need a big night from their versatile forward.
While the Celtics have struggled lately, the Wolves have put together a nice stretch of games. The Wolves are 3-3 in their last six games. That's not great, but if you've been following the Wolves all season, you know it's a good stretch for MIN. Of those three wins, the highlight was a win over the powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder late last week.
The Wolves are facing a Celtics team that has beaten them in the last eleven consecutive meetings (ten of those coming since KG was traded to Boston in the summer of 2007).
These two teams have already met once this season and this is the last matchup of the year. The first meeting came back on Dec. 5th in Boston. The result was a 94-104 loss. Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce each scored 18 points, which contributed to the Celtics shooting 52.6% from the field.
The Wolves should be able to take advantage of no KG or Pierce as well as Boston's struggles on the road. The Celtics are 13-24 away from Boston this season, they've lost six of their last seven on the road and are averaging just 88.7ppg in their last seven road games.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineup...
I pray that Pekovic can play tonight, because if he does and he's healthy, he may score 30+ Without Kevin Garnet manning the middle the Celtics are relying on big men Brandon Bass & Chris Wilcox to lock down the paint and crash the boards. If Pek can't play, Greg Stiemsma (3.9P, 3.1R, 1.2B) will continue to start at center.
The Celtics started a Bradley-Pierce-Green-Bass-Wilcox lineup in their game on Sunday, but I'd assume with Paul Pierce sitting out, Courtney Lee will be back in the starting lineup, teaming up with Bradley in the backcourt.
While I hope Pek can play, so he can dominate in the paint, Derrick Williams is set up to have a good game himself. Williams should be able to churn out a 20-10 game. Bass isn't quite as athletic as Williams and isn't really known for his defensive prowess. Add to that the rebounding void left by KG (their leading rebounder) and D-Will should also be able to return to double digits on the boards.
It's certainly a battle of the injury-ravaged in this one, it should be a good game nonetheless, tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!