Jae Crowder
Timberwolves-Celtics Preview
Jae Crowder

Timberwolves-Celtics Preview

Published Dec. 20, 2015 10:03 p.m. ET

The Minnesota Timberwolves might be taking a brief look into Kevin Garnett's past, but it's their stars of the future who are opening eyes.

Garnett makes another return to the TD Garden to face the Celtics on Monday night as he tries to help the young Timberwolves earn their first win in Boston in almost a decade.

Minnesota (11-16) has followed eight losses in nine games with a pair of wins, including the front end of their back-to-back set with Sunday's 100-85 victory at Brooklyn - another former team for Garnett.

After opening his career in Minnesota, the 21-year veteran spent six seasons with Boston - winning the 2008 NBA championship - and played the better part of two with the Nets. He has chipped in 3.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in his first season back with the Timberwolves, but his role is mainly to mold their young core.


Boston coach Brad Stevens has taken notice of the group Garnett is working with.

"They're talented. I mean, super talented," Stevens said following Sunday's practice. "I said this yesterday, they look like the young (Oklahoma City) team as far as when you start looking at (Andrew) Wiggins and (Karl-Anthony) Towns. Those are real building blocks."

It hasn't turned into consistent success yet, but the Timberwolves have stacked wins together for the first time since late November. Wiggins finished one off his career high with 32 points in Friday's 99-95 win over Sacramento while matching a career high with 10 rebounds and setting a season high with six assists. Towns followed with 24 points and 10 rebounds at Brooklyn, helping Minnesota snap a four-game road losing streak.

Towns has averaged 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last four games. His latest work came at Barclays Center, where he was the top pick in the June draft.

''It felt like I was at the park out here tonight,'' he said, ''just having a blast, having fun and no matter what happened.''

More enjoyable would be snapping the Timberwolves' nine-game losing streak in Boston dating to Jan. 18, 2006. Minnesota has won three of five games in this series, but the Celtics took the previous 11.

The Celtics (14-13) aren't cracking many smiles after their dismal week.

Just over a week ago, Boston took then-undefeated Golden State into two overtimes and followed with a win at Charlotte. The Celtics have followed that with three straight losses, two coming at TD Garden.

Boston committed 40 turnovers the last two contests, including a season-high 22 while getting outscored 68-36 in the paint in Friday's 109-101 loss to Atlanta - its third straight home defeat .

''We got exposed again (Friday) - for the third time this week,'' Stevens said.

Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points two days after matching a career high with 38, and Jae Crowder added a career-best 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Thomas made 18 of 32 shots and 25 of 26 free throws the last two games, and Crowder has averaged 15.9 points in nine December contests.

Stevens says there is more than a 50 percent chance Amir Johnson will play. He is dealing with plantar fasciitis.


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