Minnestoa Timberwolves (5-22) at Boston Celtics (20-5)
Sunday, December 20th, 6:00PM EST
TV: CSNNE, FSNorth Radio: WEEI
Venue: TD Garden
Game: 26 Home Game: 13 (8-4)
The Celtics have to be a little down walking into this game. There is no shame being 20-5, and there is no shame in dropping a game or two during the regular season. But going on an 11 game winning streak only to lose it to the struggling (to say the least) Sixers has got to be an emotional let down.
That was yesterday though (well actually it was Friday). Today is a new day, and the Celtics get the honor of entertaining some old buddies from out of town. Al Jefferson and his ‘Turrible T-Wolves’ stand proudly at 31st place in the league. Don’t let that deceive you though, even the most horrible teams pose a threat to our boys. As has been the case since before Lady Gaga was famous (or at least before I heard about her) the Celtics are public enemy number 1 in the league right now. While the C’s don’t technically have the best record, we are surely the most despised. Every team hates how the boys talk on the court, every team hates how the team is chirpy, chippy, and cocky.
If that’s not enough, there will forever (by forever I mean the next four years or so) be a link between Al Jefferson and Kevin Garnett. Every single time these two big men suit up, there will be a litmus test, a decision made again about whether or not the Celtics fleeced the Timberwolves in the summer of 2007. Every time the two teams square off is another chance for Al Jefferson to prove himself to the lovely people in Minnesota.
However, the Celtics are used to that. Every team has a manufactured reason for why their game against the Celtics matters. ‘Rondo and the Celtics come to Chicago to revisit tight playoff series’, ‘Celtics Visit Atlanta to Fuel Rivalry’, ‘Bobcats square off against the hated Ray Allen and the Celtics’. This is nothing new. To the Timberwolves this is one of the bigger games of the month. It’s a ‘circle the date’ game. It’s one that matters big time to a team that is 5-22. It’s a statement game that might talk to fans for a team whose records is nary but a whisper.
To the Celtics though, this game is the single biggest game of the day. They won’t play any other game today that is more important than the one against the Timberwolves, and then they’ll move on, like they always do.
Probable Starting Lineups
|8||TONY ALLEN ||14.0||5.6||2.6||0.8|
INJURIES AND STUFF: G. DAVIS (OUT), BILL WALKER (D-LEAGUE), MARQUIS DANIELS (OUT)
|PF||KEVIN LOVE||30.9 ||14.4||12.4||2.1|
INJURIES AND STUFF: RYAN GOMES (OUT)
MATCHUP OF THE GAME: Kendrick Perkins V Al Jefferson
Well Kendrick Perkins is allegedly one of the best post defenders in the NBA. Al Jefferson is allegedly one of the best offensive post players in the NBA. Al Jefferson has never beaten Kendrick Perkins and the Celtics since he was traded back in 2007. He holds the edge on Perkules in points and rebounds, but not wins. Now that Kevin Love is back and Al Jefe has a legit sidekick again, can he finally get a Dub-ya?
Other Noteable Matchup:
Oleksyy Percherov V Shelden Williams & Rasheed Wallace
The Ukrainian Stewie Griffin just absolutely went off against the Celtics earlier this season, grabbing 24 points and 8 rebounds on 64% shooting. He did this while playing a substantial amount of time against the Celtics' starters. Now that Kevin Love has returned, Stewie will be relegated to a bench role, but both Sheed and Shelden are going to have a touch time chasing Pecherov our on the perimeter while also holding down the paint.
Keys to the Game for the Good Guys
1: Hold down the starting frontcourt boards- Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins shouldn't have any trouble stopping Big Al Jefe an Kevin Love from scoring. if they can't stop them completely, they won't let either one get a real rhythm going. The real issue though is that Love and Jefferson together average roughly 21.5 rebounds per game, while Perk and Garnett pull together for about 15 per contest.
2: Keep active when the starting 5 sit- The Timberwolves are like a lot of other young teams (Thunder, Grizzlies, Blazers except this season). They're not very talented at the top, but their top 3 on down are all at comperable talent levels. I don't want to say their bench is better than ours, because its not. However, most of their bench is 'kinda good'. They're all guys who can go for 24 points and 8 rebounds on 64% shooting, or guys who can go for 2 pts, 2 TO's, 4 PF's and 9 boards on 17% shooting. It's like with poker...they say the most dangerous players are the new ones, because they're completely unpredictable. If our bench lets their young kids start feeling good about themselves, it could be a pretty big deal.
Bill Walker Watch: 1 game, 0 pts, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 earth shattering life changing dunks
Probability of significant playing time: 0%
-Hey, the Hype Machine just grabbed 32 points in a losing effort though on like 70% shooting. That's good news, right? Kinda?