by Ya Mudda
Tonight the Timberwolves continue their short Eastern Conference trip by visiting the sliding Boston Celtics. The Celtics are currently on a three game losing streak, their most recent loss was a 109—101 defeat at the hands of the Hawks who were without Teague for most of the second half. The Timberwolves meanwhile have a two game win streak and are coming off a solid performance against the lowly Nets as well as a gutsy win over the Kings.
For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas has been on a scoring tear averaging 23 points on 43% shooting in his past 5 games and has been the engine to the Celtics’ offense. Thomas is assisted by Jae Crowder who is coming off a season high 24 against the Hawks. What really makes the Celtics a good team though is their defense. Brad Stevens has built the Boston defence to shut down the pick and roll without surrendering open threes. The Celtics ranks 5th in fewest 3s allowed per game. Not only this the Celtics do not get beat in transition with Stevens taking a cue from his predecessor Doc Rivers, getting his guys to get back on defense as soon as a shot is put up. The Celtics allow the 2nd fewest fast break points per game. They are doing all of this without a rim protecting big man by the way. Lastly the final component of their defense is that they are very good at forcing teams to turn over the ball with good on ball defenders in Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart.
The Timberwolves have been playing some encouraging basketball lately led by the young guns, in particular Wiggins and Towns have been exceptional. Wiggins has been a beast scoring over 20 in three of his last four games whereas Towns has two 20-10 games in his last 3. Outside of the youngsters, Martin has been moved back the bench and has been a bit up and down but he continues to score at a decent clip, scoring 16 on 11 shots against the Nets. Led by Rubio, Garnett and Towns the defence has been okay, allowing 102.9 points per game, the Celtics’ ability to force turn overs masks the problem they have generating half-court offense, with Rubio covering Thomas the defence should be able to shut down most of what the Celtics are doing.
Match-ups to watch:
Wiggins vs. Crowder: Andrew Wiggins has been tearing it up recently, it looks like he’s making the leap to superstardom a year or two early than most of us expected. He has been absolutely carrying the offense recently and tonight he comes up against one of the better defenders going around in Jae Crowder. Remember how the Celtics are elite at getting teams to turn over the ball? Well Crowder is one of the main reasons, he averaging 2 steals per contest while also playing some good individual defence. Maple Jordan is going to have his hands full tonight carrying the offense against a stellar Boston defence.
Karl Anthony-Towns vs. Everybody: The Celtics’ bigs are as follows: Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson. There isn’t any rim protection there but they are pretty good handling duties on the perimeter, good thing for us Karl has a nice post game. If Karl doesn’t get a bunch of post touches tonight we should just fire Sam Mitchell and replace him with 2k simulations.
Lavine vs. Turner: I’m laughing as I’m typing this match up. I can’t think of a better match up between two unintentionally trash players. With Ricky playing solidly in the past few games and staying relatively injury free Lavine’s playing time has reduced a bit as well as his usage. Turner meanwhile is a pretty inefficient chucker, this matchup has glorious potential.