WHO: Celtics (26-26) vs. Timberwolves (13-39)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: TD Garden
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G: Kemba Walker
G: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Jaylen Brown
C: Tristan Thompson
G: Ricky Rubio
G: Josh Okogie
SF: Anthony Edwards
PF: Jaden McDaniels
C: Karl-Anthony Towns
The Boston Celtics (26-26, 24-28 ATS) wrap their epic seven-game home stand against the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-39, 23-28-1 ATS) at 7:30 EST. This marks only the seventh game with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell available together this season. Minnesota is 3-3 in those games.
Evan Fournier (COVID protocol) is out for Boston. Malik Beasley (hamstring) is out and Jaylen Nowell (leg) is doubtful, with Josh Okogie (personal) probable for Minnesota.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 8.5 point favorites.
- Celtics vs. Timberwolves spread: Celtics -8.5
- Celtics vs. Timberwolves over-under: 228 points
- Celtics vs. Timberwolves money line: Celtics -400, Wolves +320
The Timberwolves sunk to the bottom of the NBA though the absences of Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist, COVID-19) for 20 games and D’Angelo Russell (knee) for 30. Opponents have outscored the Wolves by 7.3 points per 100 possessions; when Russell and Towns shared the floor, Minnesota has a 4.9 point advantage.
Russell is playing 23-24 minutes off the Wolves’ bench. He shot 12-for-34 in the two games with eight assists and one turnover in a win over Sacramento and loss to Indiana.
Towns returned to full form over the last 12 games to carry the Wolves while Russell recovers. He’s in the midst of an unmatched stretch, averaging 29.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 blocks on 49.2% field goal, 43.2% three-point and 87.7% free throw shooting. During that stretch — 4-8 for Minnesota — Malik Beasley injured his hamstring and Josh Okogie exited the lineup.
A thin Wolves team hasn’t been able to sustain those losses and the team hasn’t competed defensively, losing their last game to Indiana despite scoring 137 points. Minnesota posts a 116 defensive rating in Towns’ minutes and 122 in Russell’s.
Is Robert Williams III ready for the Towns matchup? All eyes will shift toward the starting center announcement today after Tristan Thompson flashed seven points, eight rebounds and three blocks in his 22-minute return from COVID protocol. Williams struggled for the second consecutive night in the win over the Knicks, after fouling out against Joel Embiid and the 76ers in 16 minutes. Boston is 5-3 since Williams entered the starting lineup.
Brad Stevens typically takes a matchup approach to the center position though, so Thompson’s build and history of defending stretch bigs on the perimeter bodes better against Towns. Thompson held Towns to 8-of-16 shooting and 1.04 points per possessions in 2018-19 with Cleveland, solid numbers that are beneath Towns’ gaudy averages.
Boston’s starting offense could be hurt by playing Williams with the second unit, but Minnesota allows 117 points per game. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker should be able to reach that threshold after Walker’s rest day on Wednesday. The Celtics average 119 points per 100 possessions with Thompson on the floor.
Boston 118, Minnesota 110 (26–19, 19-23 ATS)