Boston Celtics (7-6) at Minnesota Timberwolves (4-8)
Monday, November 21, 2016
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #14, Road Game #8
TV: CSN-NE, FS North, NBA-LP 762(DTV)/759(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WCCO-AM 830
Referees: Ed Malloy, Gediminas Petraitis, Leroy Richardson
The Celtics continue their 3 game road trip with a stop in Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games but they are healthy now for the first time this season. The Wolves are 4-6 in their last 10 games and are starting the same lineup they finished last season with.
The Celtics are coming off a win over the Pistons while the Wolves are coming off a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Timberwolves have beaten the Celtics 4 straight times at the Target Center while the Celtics have won 10 straight at the TD Garden.
The Celtics are healthy for the first time this season. Marcus Smart left the game vs the Warriors with a bone bruise on his ankle but returned to play against the Pistons. He limped off the court after the last play in Detroit but I haven't seen anything so far about any injury that could keep him out of this game.
PGSG SF PF C
Isaiah Thomas ...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder...Al Horford...Amir Johnson
PGSGSF PF C
Ricky Rubio...Zach LaVine...Andrew Wiggins... Gorgui Dieng... Karl-Anthony Towns
John Lucas III
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) out
Brandon Rush (toe) Game Time Decision
Jae Crowder vs Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins is playing very well and averaging 25.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The Celtics are happy to have Jae back for this matchup. He needs to stay with Wiggins and keep him from having a big night.
Amir Johnson vs Karl Anthony Towns
Towns has been very good this season after a year of Kevin Garnett's mentoring. He is averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.25 blocks. Amir will have his hands full trying to slow down the Wolves 7' center who is versatile enough to beat out Isaiah Thomas in the Skills Challenge.
Avery Bradley vs Zach LaVine
LaVine is playing very well this season. Avery needs to keep him from getting into the paint because he is very good at finishing when he does. He is averaging 19.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. LaVine's athleticism will be a challenge for Avery on both ends of the court.
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. They struggled with two of their best defenders out for 8 games. But now that they are healthy, it's time to once again clamp down on defense. 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. When they put out the effort on the boards, it also translates to the other parts of their game.
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. When they slow it down, more times than not, they struggle.
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 succeeded by playing as one star and playing hard for each other. They need play as a team and move the ball and find the open man. They also have to play as a team on the defensive end and play swarming team defense.
On the Road - The Celtics are playing in the 2nd of a 3 game road trip. They have to be able to focus and block out the hostile crowd and the factors that make it difficult to play on the road. They are 3-4 on the road now and have to find a way to play better away from the Garden.
The Gang's All Here - The Celtics are going into this game with everyone healthy and they have had a day to play for this game with the whole team available. Hopefully that will translate to better play and another win for the Green team
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. Refs usually favor the home team somewhat so the Celtics need to play through any bad calls and not let the officiating distract them.