Mar 22, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) dribbles the ball in the Dallas Mavericks zone during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Celtics 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Boston Celtics (38-35) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (26-46)

The Boston Celtics come to Minneapolis this evening firmly entrenched in the 7th seed of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. With 2 and a half games separating them from both the Atlanta Hawks at the 6th seed and the Milwaukee Bucks in the 8th, the Celtics, 4-6 over their last 10, have lost their starting point guard, Rajon Rondo, to a season-ending knee explosion and are currently in the midst of resting their starting center, Kevin Garnett, for 2 weeks with a swollen ankle. Boston is seemingly entrenched in the 7th seed matchup against either the New York Knicks (whom they lost to in Madison Square Garden Sunday night, 89-108) or the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks and Pacers are tied at 11 and a half games behind the Miami Heat.

Celtics probable starting lineup:

PG Avery Bradley

SG Paul Pierce

SF Jeff Green

PF Brandon Bass

C Chris Wilcox

Green has been on something of a tear, averaging 21 points, with 45% on 4 3-point attempts a game, 6 rebounds, 4 assists plus a steal and a block in 40 minutes a game over his last 5 while establishing himself as Boston’s crystal-clear #2 scoring option behind Paul Pierce.

Bradley is one of the premiere perimeter defenders in the NBA. He is also the starting point guard for the Celtics in name only as Paul Pierce has averaged 7 assists for the month of February and 6 for March. While his usage rate hasn’t varied too much from his high 20s, low 30s career averages — he is Boston’s offensive point-man through whom everything runs.

Courtney Lee has played around 30 minutes a game for the last 2 months, and Jason Terry has been right around 25. The Lee, Terry, Bradley-trio is the Celtic back court platoon.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Pek is questionable for tonight. Chris Johnson saw just 2 minutes of action against Memphis and their bruising front line. If Pek can’t give it a go, he may fare better and get some more burn against the Celtics — even without KG.

The Wolves got 20 points from their bench to Memphis’ 34. Chase Budinger scored 2, Dante Cunningham scored 4 and J.J. Barea had 5 as the Wolves’ entire bench struggled against the Grizzlies. The lone bright spot, though he played just 7 minutes, was Alexey Shved’s 9 points on 3 shots. Shved hit both 3s he attempted and missed 1 of his 2 free throws.

Rubio has averaged 14 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals on 41% shooting for March. Over his last 5 he’s at 16, 8, 5 and 2 on 47% shooting. (Ricky is back.)

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Tags: Boston Celtics Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview

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