Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (8-8) @ Boston Celtics (9-8)

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolves play the second night of their back-to-back road trip in Boston. The Celtics have been stuck in 3rd gear so far this season: 15th in the league in scoring (97.5) and 17th in points allowed (97.9).

Celtics probable starting lineup:

PG Rajon Rondo

SG Jason Terry

SF Paul Pierce

PF Brandon Bass

C Kevin Garnett

Rondo, averaging 12.9 league-leading assists a game, took issue with a Kris Humphries foul on Garnett early in the Celtics loss to Brooklyn last Wednesday in Boston. They get the league leader back from his 2 game suspension tonight. As a team, Boston ranks 2nd in the league in assists.

Terry and fellow newcomer Courtney Lee have had been blamed, in part, for Boston’s sluggish start, but Jeff Green, averaging 8.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 43% shooting on the year, has done little to justify his ridiculous 4-year, 36 million dollar contract.

Suffering the departure of Ray Allen, the Celtics are 29th in the league in three pointers made, at 5.2 a game. Avery Bradley replaced Allen mid-season last year, and has been out with a separated shoulder. He’s expected back sometime in the next two weeks, but shouldn’t help their perimeter shooting as much as their perimeter defense.

The Wolves aren’t much better from 3, averaging 5.9 (24th in the league), which makes last night’s 13-25 performance so remarkable.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Luke Ridnour

SG Malcolm Lee

SF Josh Howard

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

Nobody expects Howard or Lee to shoot 11-16 from the floor like they did against the Sixers. Alexey Shved’s shooting has been trending up for awhile, however, and Derrick Williams has seen a couple nice shooting games in a row. Those perimeter threats, combined with Ridnour’s 52% shooting over his last 4 games — if good Barea made the trip from Philly to Boston, watch out Celtics.

Boston is 30th in the league in rebounding, at 37.4 a game. The Wolves are 4th, at 45.4. Not a Wolf played more than 29 minutes last night in Philly. KG does have the kind of reach that could cause Love or Pek trouble — Love is shooting 30% his last 5, Pek 44%. With rookie Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox coming off the Boston bench, the Wolves have an advantage inside, to say the least.

The Wolves have won 3 of their last 5 — underscoring the team’s newfound depth as Love has struggled to regain his form. This isn’t the same Wolves team KG has been punking since his departure five years ago. Expect a game.

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