In the highly anticipated homecoming of Kevin Garnett against the new-look Timberwolves, the Boston Celtics played sensational defense and controlled the tempo against a battered and bruised Timberpups team. Without scorers Nikola Pekovic, Michael Beasley, and JJ Barea, the Pups had a very difficult time getting anything going on the offensive end facing one of the best half court defenses in the NBA. The Timberwolves past and future faced off in a vicious PF battle, and eventually culminated with the 35 year old Garnett having his way with Kevin Love.
The Big Ticket was certainly amped up to march into the Target Center and get a victory, especially after publicly ripping the Timberwolves organization as a whole this week. KG could not have looked more like his former self tonight, producing a stat line of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists in 34 minutes of play. Garnett was extremely active on the defensive end and was able to get into K-Love’s head. Love recorded his NBA-leading 45th double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, but shot a miserable 5-18 from the field and turned the ball over 3 times. The Celtics defenders did a good job of not biting at Love’s shot fakes and forced him to take many tough, contested looks, and the Celtics ran away for a 100-79 victory on the road.
With Barea missing time again due to injury, Luke Ridnour continues to assume the majority of the minutes at PG, despite having to play through a strained groin. Ridnour appeared to aggravate his groin in the third quarter, but was able to come back in for the final minutes of the contest. Confronting excellent perimeter defense, Ridnour was noticeably frustrated on the court and had a tough time sticking with the quick and physical Boston guards. In 36 minutes, Pop-a-shot had 15 points on 7-13 shooting and tallied 8 dimes, but he turned the ball over 4 times and was exploited on the defensive end.
At the half, the Celtics led the Pups 56-45. The Timberwolves turned the ball over 10 times compared to only 5 Celtics turnovers. Leading the way for the green was Rajon Rondo, who notched 12 first half assists and dissected a patchy Wolves defense. Kevin Love recorded 13 points and 7 rebounds, but shot just 4-11 from the field and was noticeably disrupted from good interior defense and double teams by the Celtics. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett played good defense on Love and scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting while grabbing 5 rebounds.
In the second half, the Wolves were unable to get within 9 points of Boston and were not able to make necessary adjustments on either end of the floor. Rajon Rondo continued his magic in the second half, finishing with 17 dimes while completely manipulating the Wolves defensive scheming.
Minnesota’s wing play continues to be a problem, and players like Paul Pierce are able to have a field day against the weak perimeter defense presented by the Wolves. Pierce finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds, and the Pups had absolutely no answer for him. Starters Martell Webster and Wes Johnson extended their struggles into tonight, combining for 9 points on 4-14 shooting. Neither player had success on the defensive end and both had very poor shot selection. Wes hoisted up any open look that he got instead of attacking the rim and looking for high percentage shots, telling a lot about his basketball IQ.
Rookie Derrick Williams got another start at PF and had a tough time against the big Celtics frontcourt. D-Will scored 14 points on 5-14 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds in 39 minutes, all the while playing sloppy defense and getting tossed around by Greg Stiemsma and KG. Although Boston is statistically the worst rebounding team in the NBA, they were able to grab the same amount of rebounds as the Pups (45).
Seeing time as the backup PG once again was rookie Malcolm Lee, who was really up and down tonight. The intensity that he brings to the game is very noticeable, and it is also clear that Lee is not completely comfortable playing in the NBA atmosphere yet. Despite this, Lee scored 7 points and grabbed 3 rebounds and played a decent game overall. I am very excited to see what this kid can do for the Pups in the future, as he has all the tools to be an effective combo guard under Coach Rick Adelman.
The Timberwolves bench was really outplayed by Boston’s tonight. Anthony Tolliver provided some decent minutes, converting 3 of his 5 field goal attempts and playing solid defense. However, also seeing time was Wayne Ellington, who missed all 6 of his shot attempts while committing 2 turnovers. Wayne has now missed his last 11 shots and his confidence appears to be waning. Brad Miller saw rare minutes, netting 2 free throws and doing not much else in 8 minutes.
The Celtics won their tenth straight matchup against Minnesota, and the Pups have been unable to defeat Boston ever since trading Kevin Garnett to them in 2007. The difference between the two teams intensities on defense was impossible to ignore. Boston rotated on defense as well as any opponent the Pups have faced this season, and the Wolves can learn a thing or two about rotating to the open man on defensive switches. Turnovers were a huge problem for the Pups as they committed 20 as a team, compared to only 9 by Boston. They simply have to stop being careless with the ball on offense, and need to respond with intensity against tough man defense. They continually broadcasted their passes, trying passes over the entire defense that resulted in interceptions, and were simply outhustled for loose balls. If Kevin Love wants to become the best player in Minnesota Timberwolves history, he is going to have to learn to be the defensive beast that KG still is today.
- Key Player: What a homecoming for Kevin Garnett, as he produced a stat line that Minnesota fans were used to seeing night in and night out.
- Key Stat: 20 turnovers for the Timberwolves. At this point in the season, it is absolutely unacceptable to be as careless with the ball as they were tonight.
Photo Credits: Guxed.net