With the Boston Celtics struggling and Kevin Garnett still
sidelined, the team’s opportunity to improve its playoff seeding is
But on Monday night in Minnesota, they’ll try to take advantage
of a Timberwolves team they’ve won 11 straight against. Ten of
those victories have come since Garnett was traded to Boston in the
summer of 2007.
The Celtics (38-35) have lost six of eight overall and six of
seven on the road following a 108-89 defeat against the Knicks on
Sunday. They remain in seventh in the East, 2 1/2 games back of
Atlanta and 2 1/2 in front of Milwaukee.
Sunday was their fifth straight game without Garnett, who has
been sidelined with inflammation in his left ankle. Coach Doc
Rivers said Friday that the team was intending to stick to its
initial two-week timetable for Garnett’s return, which would likely
see him miss two more games this week against Detroit and Cleveland
in addition to Monday’s contest.
The absence of Garnett – Boston’s leading rebounder with 7.8 per
game – has had an effect on the boards, with the Celtics giving up
an average rebounding margin of minus-4.8 over the last five.
Garnett is also the club’s second-leading scorer averaging 14.9
Boston could also be without leading scorer Paul Pierce (18.7
ppg) on Monday after he turned his ankle during Sunday’s loss.
“I feel like when we’re healthy we can compete with anybody,”
said Jeff Green, who scored 27 against the Knicks and is averaging
20.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting over his last 10 contests. “We
have a chance on it, whoever we match up against.”
Despite being long removed from the playoff hunt, the
Timberwolves (26-46) have been more competitive recently, splitting
their last six games, including an impressive victory over Oklahoma
City on Friday.
It seemed they were on track for another surprising win Saturday
against Memphis, but they allowed a 16-2 run at the beginning of
the fourth quarter on the way to a 99-86 defeat.
“I just think at one point we looked like we were trying to win
the game in one possession,” coach Rick Adelman said. “Trying to
making hero plays and super plays. Just try to make solid
Nikola Pekovic is listed as questionable after sitting out
against the Grizzlies because of the sprained left ankle he
suffered Friday, the latest in a litany of injuries for Minnesota
The Timberwolves have seen a positive with Ricky Rubio
continuing to look more like he did before tearing his ACL last
March. He’s averaging 13.8 points and 8.6 assists over his last 28
games, compared to 5.5 points and 5.4 assists in his first 19 games
back from the injury.
Boston’s offense has slowed to a crawl away from home, averaging
88.7 points over its last seven road games. The Celtics have also
struggled to defend the 3-point line of late, allowing their last
three opponents to go 29 of 64 from beyond the arc (45.3 percent),
though the Timberwolves rank last in 3-point percentage (30.0).
The Celtics claimed a 104-94 home victory in the season’s first
meeting Dec. 5. Pierce and Garnett each scored 18 points as Boston
shot 52.6 percent from the floor, though Rubio was still sidelined