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Celtics welcome Kevin Garnett back to the Garden as they host the Timberwolves

The Celtics look to break their 3 game losing streak as they host Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves (11-16) at Boston Celtics (14-13)
Monday, December 21, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #28, Home Game #15
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, WCCO-AM
TD Garden
Referees: Tony Brothers, David Guthrie, Kevin Scott

The Celtics look to break their 3 game losing streak as they host Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves. KG is playing his two former teams back to back. On Sunday, the Wolves beat the Nets and they come into Boston on a two game win streak.

The Wolves are 3-7 in their last 10 and 7-6 on the road. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 and 7-7 at home. The series between these teams last season was 1-1 with each team winning on their home court. Minnesota has lost 9 straight in Boston.

After the Celtics lost 3 straight games, Brad Stevens hinted that he might switch up the lineups and the rotation. Depending on what he saw in Saturday and Sunday's practices, we may see a different starting lineup or a different rotation off the bench. Tyler Zeller gave the Celtics a boost off the bench against Detroit and may see more minutes. David Lee has been a train wreck pretty much for the most part in his minutes. Even if he doesn't want to, Stevens may be forced to make a change if Amir Johnson can't play.

Johnson missed Saturday and Sunday's practices with plantar fasciitis. He's reportedly been dealing with it for a couple of weeks. He was wearing a protective boot on Sunday and it is unclear whether he will play in this game. With Amir's availability up in the air, the Celtics have recalled Jordan Mickey from the Red Claws. They have also recalled Terry Rozier who could see some minutes in this game if Stevens wants to shake up the rotation. Marcus Smart is once again expected to miss this game. For the Wolves, Nikola Pekovic will be out with an Achilles injury.

It was just before the Celtics hosted the Timberwolves last season on December 19 that the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo and Jae Crowder became a Celtic. The Wolves had also made a trade on the same day and so there was a lot of uncertainty on both sides going into their game at the Garden last season.

Probable Starters
Isaiah Thomas ...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder...Jared Sullinger...Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
David Lee
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Marcus Smart (leg) out
Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) questionable

Probable Starters
Ricky Rubio...Andrew Wiggins...Tayshaun Prince... Kevin Garnett... Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves Reserves
Nemanja Bjelica
Gorgui Dieng
Tyus Jones
Zach Lavine
Kevin Martin
Andre Miller
Shabazz Muhammad
Adreian Payne
Damjun Rudez

Nikola Pekovic (Achilles) out

Head Coach
Sam Mitchell

Key Matchups
Avery Bradley vs Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins is playing very well and averaging 21.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Avery needs to play well on both ends of the court if the Celtics hope to break out of their slump.

vs PF
Jared Sullinger vs Karl Anthony Towns
Towns has been taken under KG's wing and could be this season's Rookie of the Year. He is averaging 15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.04 blocks. Sully will have his hands full trying to slow down the Wolves 7' center.

Honorable Mention

Evan Turner vs Kevin Martin
This is a matchup of key reserves. Martin is capable of putting up a lot of points in a short time and the Celtics will need to defend him well, especially on the perimeter. They also need Turner to play well and give the Celtics a boost off the bench.

Player to Watch

Kevin Garnett is back with the team that drafted him and where he became a star. However, after 6 very special years with the Celtics, he will always be a Celtic. Although he is now a Timberwolf, he still loves Boston and Celtics fans. He should get a very warm welcome from the crowd and knowing KG, will play very well against his old team.

Keys to the Game

Defense - The Celtics must defend. The offense feeds off of the defense and if the Celtics can't get stops they struggle on the other end as well. Their identity this season has been their tough and gritty defense, but they have let it slip over the past 3 games. They need to focus on defense once again. Defense wins games!!

Rebound - The Celtics must get rebounds to prevent second chance points and fast breaks for the Wolves. Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics have got to show both and crash the boards as a team.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds and in taking the ball to the basket. They also have to be aggressive on defense. When they are aggressive in going to the hoop good things happen. The Celtics have to play like they are the team that wants it more.

Set the Pace-
The Celtics must run from the beginning of the game until the final buzzer. Running will allow them to get easy baskets as they get down the court before the defenses set up. They have to run and they have to move the ball. They had just 10 fast break points against the Hawks and they did too much walking the ball up the court and too much dribbling around.

Play As a Team - The Celtics have been successful when they move the ball and play unselfishly, making the extra pass to get the best shot. They have had 18, 17 and 19 assists in the three losses in their current streak. They need to get back to playing as a team and increase their assist numbers once again.

The KG Factor - KG loves Boston, but when he's on the court, they will be the enemy for the night. He will do his best to get a win over them and his teammates are going to give their best to help him do so.

Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Will they let them play or will they call every ticky tack foul? It's usually to the Celtics' benefit if they let both teams play. Will they call it fair or will they favor one team over the other? One never knows what any given crew will do.

Official Report
Tony Brothers

Tony Brothers is entering his 22nd season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,270 regular season games, 84 Playoff games and five NBA Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy and the 2008 China Games.Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments.

Two seasons ago, in a game vs the Knicks, twice Brothers made the correct call from across the court after Dick Bavetta, who was standing right on top of it, missed the call. All in all, Brothers is one of the better refs in the league. But, inexplicably in a game last season against the Lakers, he was terrible. He was the referee who ejected Isaiah Thomas on a bogus technical call, which has since been rescinded. He also missed a clear travel and double dribble by Lin right in front of him at a very crucial time. There were bad calls and bogus calls all game. The Lakers shot 38 free throws to 27 for the Celtics. Even the Lakers fans were complaining about the officiating going their way all game. Here is a comment from the Lakers boards that says it all, "The Refs are screwing our tank."

This season, in the loss to Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of the ref, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:

"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"

"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."

"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."

Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston, even after several intentional fouls by Boston at the end.

Other than that game he has been a decent ref so who knows what we will get in this game. Brothers called the loss at Indiana this season and the officiating in that game wasn't bad. Brothers calls 42.8 fouls per game with 47.1% of those fouls called on the home team. The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 with Brothers. The Wolves are 2-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 12-8.

David Guthrie

David Guthrie enters his eleventh season after officiating 582 regular season games and 18 playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA D-League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the D-League championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments. In the past, Guthrie has been a decent referee, usually letting the teams play rather than over-officiating. He calls an average of 42 fouls per game with 51.3% called on the road team. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Wolves are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 11-8.

Kevin Scott

Kevin Scott enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 218 regular season games. Scott’s experience includes four seasons and 138 games officiated in the NBA D-League where he officiated the playoffs in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and was selected to work the NBA D-League Finals in 2011. Scott’s collegiate experience includes four years in the Southeastern Conference, 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, six years in the Southern Conference, and seven years in the Big South Conference. Scott has also been mostly good in the games he has called for the Celtics. Both teams are 0-1 this season and 1-9 over their last 10 games with Scott. His home W/L record this season is 10-8.

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