The Celtics are north of the border once again, this time to take on the Timberwolves in the Bell Centre, known more for hockey than basketball. Things have changed since the last meeting of these two teams. The Celtics are in a rebuilding phase after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett over the summer. The Wolves on the other hand have added Kevin Martin in addition to getting Kevin Love back into the starting lineup. Love played in just 18 games last season due to injury.
The Celtics front line will be challenged by the size and strength of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Love is always a threat for a double double and even 20-20 games. Pekovic is a strong and capable young player who can do a lot of damage inside.
While the Celtics are concentrating on stopping the Wolves' two big men in the paint, Kevin Martin is a threat to go off on the perimeter. Martin has been out with an Achilles injury but is expected to make his return in this game. Ricky Rubio, who is known for his ball handling and amazing passes, is always fun to watch and will be a challenge for Avery Bradley, whose specialty is defense.
The probable starters for the Wolves are Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love and Pekovic. The Celtics may start the same lineup as the past 3 games: Bradley, Crawford, Green, Bass, Sullinger, or they may start the green team from the last practice: Bradley, Lee, Wallace, Sully, and Olynyk. I like that second lineup quite a bit, especially facing the Wolves big lineup. Or then again it may be a completely different lineup.
Rajon Rondo (ACL)out
Keith Bogans (thumb) out
DeShawn Sims (knee) day to day
Phil Pressey (ankle) game time decision
Kris Humphries (foot) probable
Player to Watch
Celtics fans are still waiting for Jeff Green to play up to his potential. They are running out of preseason games for him to prove himself and hopefully he can make that leap in this game.
Chase Budinger (knee) out
Kevin Martin (Achilles) probable
Player to Watch
Kevin Love is one of the top power forwards in the game. He is always a threat for a 20-20 night. The Celtics bigs are going to need to work hard to keep him out of the paint and to slow him down.
Key Match Up
Avery Bradley vs Ricky Rubio
Rubio is a very good pure point guard who plays with flare and emotion. Bradley is a combo guard with elite defensive skills. This will be a fun matchup to watch.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Wolves have a couple of very good rebounders in Pekovic and Love. The Celtics are going to have to put a lot of effort into crashing the boards if they want to win this.
Run- The Celtics are going to be undersized compared to many of the teams they face this season. They need to run more in order to use their speed to their advantage. Coach Stevens stressed running in practice and can be heard on the sidelines encouraging the team to run. Now it's up to the players to do it.
Defense - The Celtics have some good defensive players on the team. They have to commit to each other and to team defense and put extra effort on that end of the court.
Finish Strong - The Celtics need to finish plays strong at the basket and they also need to finish the game strong. They have come up just short in several games and need to get over that hump and not just finish close, but get the win.