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Game 26/82: Minnesota (5-22) @ Boston (20-5)

 

Timberwolves Celtics BasketballMinnesota at Boston
6pm EST
TD Garden
CSN/WEEI

Offensive Efficiency:

Boston: 109.8 points/100 possessions (7th)

Minnesota: 98.0 points/100 possessions (29th)

Defensive Efficiency:

Boston: 99.7 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)

Minnesota: 108.8 points allowed/100 possessions (21st)

Probable Minnesota Starters:

Al Jefferson, Kevin Lowe, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins, Johnny Flynn

Injury Report

Minnesota: Ryan Gomes (SF) out with sprained ankle

Boston: Ray Allen is probable with a hyperextended finger. Marquis Daniels (thumb) and Glen Davis are out

WHAT THE WOLVES DO WELL:

Honestly? I couldn’t tell you

I’ve had to do a lot of previews this year for a lot of subpar teams. Out of all of them though, I’ve never had to do as much digging into the numbers to find positives in a terrible team.

As a team, they do some things okay…..and individually they have players who do things well, (see: Kevin Love rebounding) but as a collective unit, statistically there is nothing they do at a better than average rate than the rest of the league. However since it’s the holiday season here we strive to be positive here at Celtics Hub. So let’s give Big Al and company some props where we can. A few makeshift positives here.

Rebounding

Their rebounding numbers overall are mediocre, but those numbers are somewhat skewed since one of the league’s best rebounders Kevin Love missed the first 18 games of this season due to injury. With Love and Al Jefferson in the frontcourt, The Wolves have two guys that hit the glass well, especially the offensive glass in the case of Love who was the league’s best overall offensive rebounder last year.

Beating Utah

The Wolves have 5 wins this year and 2 of those have come against the Jazz thus showing they can play well against a quality opponent. So they got that going for them…..which is nice.

WHAT THE WOLVES DO POORLY

Where do I begin? Oh right….shooting from anywhere on the court

There are teams in this league that can’t shoot from behind the arc, or inside the arc or from the line. It’s rare you find a team that can’t do all 3. Luckily, The Wolves have stepped up to the plate in this department, posting atrocious numbers in all 3 categories.

They rank 24th, 29th and 28th in the league in overall FG Percentage, 3 point percentage and FT percentage respectively. Woof. Also their best 3 point shooter is old friend Ryan Gomes, who I still miss dearly and clearly has extended his range since joining Minnesota two years back. Fortunately for the C’s, he’s out with an ankle sprain tonight.

There’s a lot of other things they do poorly so I’m just going to make a laundry list here to cover all the bases

-Turnovers (29th in league)
-Getting to the line (28th in the league)
-Defending the hoop (23rd in league in opponents eFG%)

 PLAYER WHO MAKES ME WORRY

 Kevin Love and Big Al

Love for the obvious rebounding reasons. The guy just has a nose for the ball all over the floor and is one the best passing big men in the league as well. KG and Perk will have their hands full with him all night. Big Al also seems to bring it against his former team, averaging 21 points a contest in his 5 prior meetings with the C’s. He’s had an up and down year overall after returning from a torn ACL but as we all know has the low post moves to give even the best defenders fits. It will be a tough test for KG tonight to defend him and interesting to see whether Doc decides to double Big Al.

PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY

 The rest of the roster…..except maybe Ramon Sessions who I’ve always been a fan of. He’s been relatively quiet all year though. No sharpshooters and lots of youngsters who turn the ball over a lot. A recipe for disaster going up against a strong defensive team like the C’s.

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT

The Wolves like to play fast (3rd in league in pace), rebound well and are an athletic team. Teams like this have given the C’s problems this year, but Minnesota is the worst, talentwise out of all the C’s have played. Boston had trouble playing them up north back in November, squeaking out a 92-90 win and that was a Minny team that was sans Kevin Love.

Tonight they will have hit the glass hard to keep Love and Big Al from punishing them, especially on the offensive glass. A complete game would also be a nice thing to see at home against an inferior team for this squad. The C’s let their foot of the gas Friday night against a Philly team that didn’t even play particularly well. Boston paid for its sloppy play and will be well served tonight to put together a strong focused effort from start to finish.
 
I’d also love to see a solid performance from Paul Pierce. The Truth has been in a bit of rut offensively lately, shooting 40% from the field and only averaging 13 points a game in the team’s last 10 contests. Paul carried this team early on this year, so he was due for a bump in the road, but it’d be nice to see him snap out of it to get the entire starting 5 in sync together offensively for the first time this year.

PREDICTION

The C’s should be motivated to put together a strong bounceback effort after being embarrassed at home to one of the league’s worst teams Friday night. The Wolves frontcourt will test the C’s and keep them honest on the boards, but the Wolves don’t have the guns to stay with a motivated C’s team, especially coming off a home loss. Look for a comfortable win. Celtics 107, Wolves 92

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