Celtics Outlast Timberwolves, 114-98

Kelly Olynyk put on a show against the Timberwolves Friday night in Boston (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Kelly Olynyk put on a show against the Timberwolves Friday night in Boston (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves wrapped up a quick two game swing to the East Coast on Friday night in Beantown.  Both teams entered the game well under .500 and have started making the appropriate moves for their roster.  Earlier Friday, Woj dropped news that the Timberwolves worked out a trade with the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers.  Fan favorites Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf are on their way out of Minnesota, with our Pups getting back SG Troy Daniels and two second round picks.  Hours earlier the Celtics sent Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks with Dwight Powell for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, picks, and a trade exception.

With all of that roster movement out of the way, the Wolves and Celtics took to the floor this evening in an entertaining night of basketball.  The Pups opened up with Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Andrew Wiggins, Thad Young, and Gorgui Dieng.  The Celtics countered with Avery Bradley, Evan Turner, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Tyler Zeller.

The Wolves held a 13-12 lead six minutes into the game and heading into the first stoppage in play.  Wiggins was off to a slow start (0-3 shooting) but Shabazz had two nice post-up moves for two buckets.  The Celtics were led early by Avery Bradley who was attacking the Wolves’ rookie PG, putting up seven shots in the first six minutes.

Tyler Zeller picked up two fouls and gave way to Kelly Olynyk.  The Garden quickly became Olynyk’s playground as the Center finished the 1st quarter with 11 points on 5-7 shooting, to go along with 3 rebounds, an assist, and a block.  At the end of Q1 the Celtics held a 27-24 advantage.

The teams battled back and forth in the 2nd quarter.  Olynyk continued to lead the way for the Celtics, while the Pups offered up a balanced attack on the offensive end of the floor … and very little defensively.  Chase Budinger received some early minutes tonight and made the most of them, opening up by hitting his first three shots for 7 quick points.  However, the Celtics went on a little bit of a run to close out the half, going up by eight eights before Shabazz hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 53-48 at the half.

After showing signs of falling apart late in the second quarter, the Wolves defense became visibly worse coming out of the locker room.  The Celtics rebuilt an eight point lead largely due to poor team defense and an inability to control the defensive boards.  With Anthony Bennett on the bench, Flip stuck with Thad Young against Jared Sullinger and all that did was hurt the Wolves on the defensive end of the floor.  At the end of the third quarter, the Celtics held an 83-77 lead.

Despite strong efforts for three and a half quarters, the Wolves started to fall apart late in the 4th quarter.  The Celtics opened up a double digit lead and seemed to track down every loose ball and find the open man on the Wolves’ defensive rotations.  After cutting the lead to three points (95-92), the Celtics pulled away and finished the game on fire from the field.  The last six minutes of the game were an abomination for the Wolves, who struggled in every aspect of the game.

The final score: Boston 114, Minnesota 98.

Game Notes:

  • Shabazz Muhammad took his role as starting wing seriously, putting in 26 points on a very efficient 11-15 shooting to go along with a career high 5 assists.
  • Chase Budinger had a season high 19 points on 8-12 shooting.
  • The Celtics had six different players with double digit points, led by Olynyk’s 21 points on 8-13 shooting.

Preview: Timberwolves at Mavericks

In order to start laying the framework for tonight’s matchup in Dallas, the first important item of conversation is the recent news that Chase Budinger tore his meniscus in his left knee and will be out indefinitely. A timetable for his return will be made after he endures the procedure to repair the damaged knee, but regardless the loss of Budinger is a large blow to an already injury-depleted Timberwolves roster.

Following a tough road loss to a talented Chicago Bulls team, the Timberwolves have continued to overcome adversity and somehow sit at 4-2 which is good for fifth in the Western Conference. Tonight will be a sure test for Minnesota as Dallas has looked very good this season and has much more depth than the Pups currently have.

Alexey Shved will start tonight at SG with Roy sitting out due to soreness in his right knee. Shved has been one of the NBAs top rookies this season and was a key to Minnesota’s fourth quarter comeback victory in Brooklyn last week. The long and lanky Russian combo guard will have his work cut out for him as he will obviously need to assume a much larger offensive role with Budinger and Roy out, and we will be able to start to see just how capable Shved can be in Rick Adelman’s offense.

A player to pay attention to for the Mavericks tonight is rookie Jae Crowder out of Marquette, who despite being selected in the second round of the previous summer’s draft, has looked like a potential Rookie of the Year candidate playing at the SF position. Will Minnesota be able to replace Budinger’s versatility off the bench, and can the Wolves find production at SF when Andrei Kirilenko is on the bench? If Derrick Williams continues to play the way he has been, the Pups are in big trouble against the former NBA champion Mavericks.

The game will be shown on local TV and will begin at 7:30PM central time. Let’s go Wolves!