Well it took ten games, but we finally had a fourth quarter where the Celtics were not in a game. Coming off a tough back-to-back against Portland, the Celtics ran into a much better Timberwolves team tonight and the Wolves had their way with the weary C’s nearly all night long.
Avery Bradley came to play (27 points), Vitor Faverani came to play (9 points, 14 rebounds in a spot start at center) but the rest of the Celtics roster turned in mediocre or lackluster performances, and that’s never going to be enough to hang around with a team as talented as Minnesota.
Like Portland, they don’t play a ton of D, but Rick Adelman has them running great offense in both the halfcourt and transition, and the C’s just don’t have to personnel to keep up on both ends of the floor. Sadly, that will be a similar refrain for this entire road trip.
So what can we take away from tonight? A few minor notes of interest. Marshon Brooks saw his first legitimate action of the season and showed pretty clearly why he’s been stapled to the bench all season, with a few careless defensive plays and inefficient offense. You won’t be hearing many more cries for him to see the floor from C’s fans, although it’s fair to give Brooks a little slack to shake off the rust. Courtney Lee was out with a wrist injury, so it’s unclear how much time he’ll miss and potentially keep the door open for more Brooks minutes.
Jeff Green was an MIA with just two points, as the Wolves wisely cut off his drives to the hoop each time down with strips or strong contests. Jared Sullinger followed up his best career game with one of his worst, clocking in three points and a plus/minus of -27.
As far as the Western Conference goes, this Wolves team is a finely tuned machine. The Celtics fought hard to close a 16-point deficit to five at halftime, and you turn around moments into the third quarter and the Wolves snapped their fingers and had it up to an 18 point lead again. The Wolves need a strong defender in the post, but otherwise this is a team that could be a feisty underdog as a lower seed in the West. Wouldn’t want to run into them in the first round.
C’s will have a day off here, and then get a day to try to figure out how to contain James Harden and Dwight Howard. Fun.