Friday, March 30, 2012
Sorry Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett Still Runs Minnesota
The Celtics are 14-5 since the All-Star break and in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time this season. Rajon Rondo recorded 10+ assists for the 12th straight game (a team record).
Those are the three most notable highlights from Boston's (29-22, 11-14 away) 100-79 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-28, 13-13 home) this evening at the Target Center.
Ray Allen missed his fifth game in a row but the Celtics still managed to win their fourth straight and sixth out of their last seven games.
Since this was in his former home, it was only right that Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds) was the best player on either team. I'm not sure what he did over the All-Star break but he appears to have found an anti-aging formula since he's playing some great basketball, it's the best he's looked in years.
Paul Pierce added 21 points, Rondo notched 17 assists, six rebounds and three steals (with two turnovers), Avery Bradley scored 17 and Brandon Bass had 12 points. Keyon Dooling (8 points, 3 assists) and Greg Stiemsma (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) are the two bench players that are taking the most advantage of their increased minutes.
Minnesota is Kevin Love's (22 points, 11 rebounds) team and although he's been playing out of his mind this season, especially lately, suggestions that he could win an MVP award are absurd since the Timberwolves are under .500 and unlikely to make the playoffs.
Without Ricky Rubio (lost to an ACL tear), Love doesn't have enough help. Luke Ridnour had 15 points and eight assists. Rookie Derrick Williams put up 14 points and seven rebounds. No other Timberwolf scored in double figures.
This was one that Minnesota really needed to keep their fading playoff hopes alive but the funny thing is that the Celtics basically never gave them a chance. Boston was up 31-20 after one quarter and 56-45 at halftime. The Green took a 79-67 lead into the fourth and although the Timberwolves cut it to 10, the C's never were truly threatened.
Boston had one of its best defensive performances as they shot 14.2% better than Minnesota (48.9%-34.7%). Nearly doubling up the Timberwolves in assists (29-15) helped the Celts overcome 13 more made free throws (21-8). The Celtics had four more steals (9-5) while the Timberwolves committed a whopping 11 more turnovers (20-9). That helped Boston lead 16-3 in points off turnovers plus they had 10 more points in the paint (46-36).
This next week is arguably the toughest of the season for the Celtics in terms of opponents: they face Miami, San Antonio, Chicago and Indiana over seven days. April looks very tough as Boston starts out with seven playoff teams in a row. The good news is that their back-to-back couldn't be any easier: at Raptors, at Nets and at Bobcats.
The Heat come to TD Garden on Sunday afternoon and if it feels like they haven't played the Celtics in months, it's true. Their only meeting was the second game of the season, a 115-107 win by the Heat in Miami. Boston needs to prove they can beat a team the caliber of the Heat on a consistent basis. I'm excited since I'm going and it's my first Celtics game of the season. I haven't seen them play the Heat since Miami signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh so it should be a fun atmosphere (3:30 game on ABC, national audience).