Preview by Jack Simone, CLNS Media
The Boston Celtics (35-35, 32-38 ATS) locked themselves in as the seven-seed with their loss to Cleveland. They now face the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-48, 32-35-3 ATS) on night one of a back-to-back to end their regular season.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Timberwolves are 5 point favorites.
- Point Spread: Timberwolves -5
- Over-Under: 232 points
- Money line: Celtics +175, Timberwolves -205
Minnesota lists Malik Beasley and Jarrett Culver as out for tonight’s game. Both are out for the year, Beasley with a hamstring injury and Culver with an ankle injury.
The C’s have five players listed as out on their injury report – Jaylen Brown (wrist), Kemba Walker (neck), Marcus Smart (calf), Tristan Thompson (pectoral), and Robert Williams (turf toe). Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Evan Fournier (knee) are probable to play.
Predicted Starting Lineups
G: Tremont Waters
G: Evan Fournier
SF: Aaron Nesmith
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Luke Kornet
G: Ricky Rubio
G: D’Angelo Russell
SF: Anthony Edwards
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns leads the Wolves in scoring with 24.8 points per game to go along with 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Rookie Anthony Edwards (19.1) and D’Angelo Russell (19.1) contribute nearly 20 PG as well. Naz Reid (11.1) rounds out Minnesota’s double-digit scorers.
The Timberwolves are 22-48 this season, good for 13th in the Western Conference. Despite this, they won six of their last ten games. This includes two wins over the Jazz who hold the best record in the NBA.
The youth movement gets a massive opportunity tonight due to a lengthy injury report. Payton Pritchard ranks second in franchise history in three-point percentage (41.6%) and averages 7.7 PPG this season. Aaron Nesmith turned things up a notch lately, scoring 9.3 PPG on roughly 57-48-92 shooting splits. Grant Williams shot 40% from deep over the last 10 games as well.
The Celtics’ current four-game skid makes them 3-7 in their last ten games. They are an even 35-35 on the season and, as mentioned, are locked into the seven-seed.
Minnesota averages 117.9 PPG over the last ten games which ranks seventh in the NBA. Meanwhile, the C’s allow 120.2 PPG over the same stretch, ranking 25th in the league. Ramping up the defensive energy tonight helps the Celtics out tremendously. If they play the same style of defense as the Cavaliers and Heat games, the Wolves will punish them.
Boston shoots 40.7 threes per game in the last ten games (fourth in NBA). However, they rank 13th in 3PT% at 37.8%. They found much success when driving to the paint, but abandoned that tactic vs Cleveland. Defense is not Towns’ strong suit, so attacking him in the paint should be an offensive focus.
Lastly, the Celtics’ passing numbers rank bottom ten in the NBA. With very few stars available, the reserves’ ability to move the ball is crucial. Although Tatum and Fournier may be available, the rest of the team still needs to pass the ball effectively in order to help secure a win tonight.
Timberwolves 133, Celtics 117
TIP OFF: 2:00 p.m. @ Target Center
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston