The Boston Celtics marched into Target Center to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-109. The biggest win of the night, however, came when Jaylen Brown got up on his own two feet after a hard fall late in the third quarter on a transition dunk. Celtics fans worldwide collectively held their breath as Brown laid down on the floor visibly shook after landing awkwardly on his neck and back. Thankfully, he was able to get up on his own strength instead of being carried off the floor in a stretcher. He left the game with 14 points.
The rest of the game was much more lighthearted than that moment. In the first quarter, the Celtics went down 17-13 as Nemanja Bjelica (finishing with a career-high 30 points) got off to a hot start. Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris checked in, and everything changed. The defense tightened up, the floor opened up, Irving looked more comfortable, Brown continued his trend of playing well in the first quarter when I have recap duty, and Morris was absolutely unstoppable.
Morris went on a personal 9-0 run to fuel a 14-6 Celtics run as Boston went up 35-28 on 58% shooting at the end of the first. The second quarter was more of the same as the Celtics’ bench continued their hot streak of late. Minnesota’s bench poured in a mere 2 points on 1/8 shooting in the first half while Morris and Smart continued to feast.
A feast that included some jam, courtesy of Marcus “It’s A New Me” Smart (9 points, 6 assists) and his “new hand”
Boston closed out the first half with a 9-2 run aided by strong floor balance and solid defense. They headed into halftime with a 60-46 lead, but not before this highlight came early in the second quarter from Jayson Tatum (12 points):
The Wolves came out in the third with much more energy than they had prior to halftime. Karl-Anthony Towns came out with energy, and Minnesota’s offense started to pick up steam. He finished the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Al Horford (20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists) played individual defense on Towns as well as you could ask.
Per usual, Smart checked in along with Morris, and discipline was established immediately. Morris continued his hot shooting into the second half, finishing the game with 17 points. As previously mentioned, Brown went down with the hard fall late in the third, and from then on, the team looked understandably rattled. The Wolves capitalized on this, and they made it interesting, never allowing Boston to fully put them away.
In the fourth, however, Boston regained their composure behind some timely baskets by key bench contributors before Kyrie Irving (23 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists) and Al Horford teamed up to send the Timberpups packing for their first 3-game losing streak of the season. Six Boston players finished with double-digit scoring games, including Terry Rozier (13 points) in his career-high 15th straight game with double-digit scoring.
Jaylen Brown underwent concussion protocol during the fourth quarter, and per reports, he will be taken to a local hospital to continue testing.
Rebounding well after Saturday night’s close loss to Houston, Boston is now armed with a clinched playoff berth and a two-game winning streak, sitting 2 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They face each other two more times before the season ends.
Up next for Boston is a showdown against the Indiana Pacers in Boston on Sunday at 7:30PM EST.