Timberwolves-Celtics Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to rely heavily on the

outside shot.

But the way Kevin Love and company have been shooting of late,

that hasn’t been a problem.

They’ll look to remain hot from the perimeter Monday night when

they visit the Boston Celtics, who own one of the league’s top

3-point defenses.

The Timberwolves (12-12) hit a season-high 12 shots in 26

attempts from long range in Sunday’s 101-93 victory at Memphis.

Love was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, finishing with 30 points and

nine rebounds as the team took its third win in four games.

Minnesota is hitting 44.1 percent of its 3-point attempts during

that stretch.

Love was coming off a season-high 42 points while going 8 of 9

from 3-point range in Friday’s 117-110 loss in San Antonio. He’s

averaging 31.0 points over his last four games while hitting 17 of

29 from deep. Sunday’s performance was just the second time this

season he failed to record a double-double.

“It’s crazy,” said J.J. Barea, who was 3 of 5 from 3-point

range. “It opens up the drive for everybody. Everybody else can

play freely. You know they are going to have to pay attention the

rest of the game to him.”

Love and Kevin Martin have combined for 104 of Minnesota’s 184

3-pointers.

The Celtics (11-14) have been one of the league’s better teams

in terms of defending the 3-point shot, limiting opponents to 32.5

percent, including 28.0 percent over their last three games.

However, Minnesota took a 106-88 home victory over Boston on

Nov. 16 despite going 7 of 23 from 3-point range. Love was 2 of 4

and had 23 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth straight

double-double in the series. Boston’s offense was its own worst

enemy, shooting 39.5 percent from the field while committing 22

turnovers. Avery Bradley scored 27 but leading scorer Jeff Green

(16.9 ppg) was 0 for 6 with a season-low two points.

The Celtics limited the New York Knicks to 5 of 21 3-point

shooting in a 90-86 home win on Friday, rallying from an 11-point

deficit after squandering a 17-point first-half lead.

“I wouldn’t want to go through it again, but that’s exactly what

our team needed,” Stevens said. “We needed to have a lead, lose it,

be backed up against the wall and figure out a way to win.”

While Boston leads the woeful Atlantic Division, the team has

struggled against Western Conference opponents, going 2-7. Its only

wins are against Denver and Utah.

Martin – Minnesota’s second-leading scorer at 20.6 points per

game – will be trying to break out of a slump as he has totaled

only 19 over his last three contests on 5-for-24 shooting. He’s

also struggled in his last four games versus Boston, going 15 for

47 while averaging 11.5 points.

The Celtics had won 11 straight in the series prior to dropping

the last two meetings.

The Timberwolves haven’t won in Boston since March 6, 2005. and

are seeking their first season series sweep since 1999-2000.