Boston at Minnesota
Boston: 104.4 points/100 possessions (15th)
Minnesota: 101.2 points/100 possessions (24th)
Boston: 97.4 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Minnesota: 107.6 points allowed/100 possessions (26th)
Probable Minnesota starters: Lucas Robin Ridnour (PG), Wesley JaMarr Johnson (SG), Michael Beasley (SF), Kevin Wesley Love (PF), Nikola Pekovic (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: A Wolf Among Wolves
Can this even be called a trap game, at this point? Don’t traps generally have some kind of disguise element, like some leaves raked over them or something so you can’t see them? Because this game, and all games for the rest of the season, has to be considered a potential loss. After dropping two to the already-mediocre Grizzlies without their best player and the already-terrible Bobcats without their two best players, there simply is not a game this team can’t lose.
Why they’re losing, and how you should feel about it, is something we’re going to address a lot this coming week (especially if things get weird tonight). But for now, let’s take a look at how the Celtics can win, should they decide they want to.
WHAT THE TIMBERWOLVES DO WELL
Rebound. This is why the Timberwolves are not necessarily a slump-buster for the Celtics. If Kevin Love plays, they’re the fourth-best rebounding team in the league (compared to the Celtics at 20th), and the best on the offensive end. Nenad Krstic, meanwhile, is beginning to validate the concerns some of us had about the Celtics not playing with an actual center right now. He had eight boards against Charlotte, but only two against Memphis. The bench has been even worse in this category: Jeff Green and Big Baby are the only bench players with rebounds in the last two games, and they’re both averaging four.
WHAT THE TIMBERWOLVES DO POORLY
This team is basically Kevin Love, in that it rebounds very well but can’t play defense. The Wolves opposition converts almost 70% of their shots at the rim. There was a time when the Celtics got to the rim obsessively, understanding that, because they didn’t prioritize offensive rebounding, they had to make sure the one shot they could take was of a high percentage. They simply do not play that way anymore, but it would be nice to see a return to form tonight.
PLAYERS THAT MAKE ME WORRY
Kevin Love. This preview refuses not to be about Kevin Love for a second. You remember this, but he outrebounded the entire Boston team in January, and that was when they had both Shaq AND Jermaine O’Neal on the floor. If he plays tonight, and he might, the things he’ll do on the boards will be pretty gross. Never stop appreciating this guy, though. He’s completely dominated an entire statistical aspect of NBA basketball, a MAJOR aspect at that, and he’s younger than Kyle Singler, a guy he used to pose with in magazine shoots a lot when they were both Oregon high school basketball players.
Anthony Randolph has also been playing like Theoretical Anthony Randolph the past couple games. 55 points total.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Love is also almost an entire year younger than Wesley Johnson. Remember when Johnson was considered “NBA-ready?” He’s now probably the 9th or 10th best player on his terrible team.
2009: The Timberwolves draft a vastly overrated guard out of Syracuse with a top-6 pick, with the next pick going to one of the top three players in the draft.
2010: See 2009.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT
Jeff Green and Glen Davis to put their magical rings together and grow three inches.
C’s 92, Wolves 89