Celtics down the Timberwolves as Kyrie returns, 117-109
With Kyrie Irving back in the starting lineup, the Boston Celtics looked to build off a pretty impressive outing in Chicago on Monday with a second straight win as they visited the Minnesota Timberwolves. Still without Jimmy Butler who's been out the past few weeks, the Wolves have been trying their best to maintain their top-six seed out West but they knew with the Green coming in town that would be no easy task. This would prove true as the C's we're too much as they bested Minnesota, 117-109.
Both sides came out of the gates pretty hot as both teams we're seemingly trading baskets back and forth for almost all of the first quarter.
Jaylen Brown would grab a nice offensive board and put it back off the glass for an and-one ... but then the Wolves would score right back. Tyus Jones would sag off Kyrie (of all people on God's green earth) leaving him open for a second and he'd knock down the three with ease ... but then the Wolves would score right back.
This seemed to go on for a little and between Nemanja Bjelica doing his best Dirk Nowitzki impression knocking down shots from 35 feet out (no, literally) along with Taj Gibson not missing anything, it didn't seem like things would be easy tonight for the Celtics. But that's all they we're from that point out for the most part.
Ending the last five minutes of the first quarter on a 14-6 run led by the two Marcus' (Morris and Smart) and Terry Rozier, the Celtics bench was able to give the team the continuous spark they've been providing the last few games. Finding the right teammate with great court vision and moving the ball well, hitting the open shot when they had it, and making some nice plays on defense, the C's we're capitalizing on every opportunity it seemed.
In the early minutes of the second quarter, the Wolves seemed like they might be ready to make a little bit of a run. Keeping the scoring margin relatively low, the Green we're still only up on former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau's team by 7 about half way through the quarter.
Karl Anthony Towns throws one in on Baynes. This fulfills the NBA’s quota of dunking on Aron Baynes see you guys again next week. pic.twitter.com/UaVPaBJCEn
Although he did have a pretty nice poster on Aron Baynes (who hasn't at this point?), Karl-Anthony Towns decided to take his interests elsewhere as he seemed more enthused about clashing with fellow Dominican Republic native, Al Horford, instead of trying to win the game.
It felt the same way for the rest of Minnesota, too. Between endless moving screens, seemingly disinterested defenders, and players focused on complaining to refs rather than playing the game, the circus arrived in town just in time for the C's to go on another quarter-ending tear.
With Jayson Tatum making a few nice plays and along with a ridiculous put-back jam by Smart, Brad Stevens team got in gear just at the right time again and finished the first half on a 16-6 run, going into the tunnel up 60-46.
I wouldn't have blamed you if you turned off your TV by this point as the second half looked primed for a sleep-walking contest as it seemed as if Sota' had thrown up the white flag before the halftime buzzer. Looks can be deceiving though and this was true as well for this game.
With a little more pep in their step, the Timberwolves began to chip away at Boston's lead. Stringing a few baskets together, the home squad looked a lot more in tune as they we're able to cut the Celtic-lead down past ten. However, the number two seed in the East was now responding with a score every possession. Every time Minnesota seemed to get the deficit back to single digits, the C's we're sure to respond with a quick bucket or nice play on the offensive end.
Playing well on both sides of the ball to this point, Brown was having himself a great night up until an injury scare which left the whole arena shook.
With memories of October 17th rushing back into the minds of all Boston fans as they saw Jaylen staring dazedly after falling on what looked like the back of his neck.
It reminded me of that kid from Wyoming (or Wichita State ... someone help me here?), a few years back who threw down with both hands propelling himself into a back-flip. But regardless of what it looked like, it didn't look pretty and there was an eerily similar feeling to when that Hayward injury happened.
Fortunately, whatever it was may not have been as seriously as it originally looked as Brown was able to stand on his own two feet and walk as he was accompanied by trainers back into the tunnels. Still as the third quarter neared an end, the Celtics' margin looked like it might finally be in trouble.
#NEBHInjuryReport: Jaylen Brown is out for the remainder of tonight's game and is being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.
As many received news that Brown would be evaluated for concussion symptoms, like many had suggested he might including announcer Kevin Harlan, it was back to business for the Green as the final quarter began. Continuing their theme all night of getting hot in time to slow down any Minnesota run, this would be the case one last time in the fourth.
Closing the Celtic-lead again to 7 points, this would be the second time this was the closest the Wolves would come to mounting a comeback in a second straight half as the rest of the way it was all Boston. As Uncle Drew reentered the game, "winning time" had arrived and the fun started back up.
Scoring three consecutive baskets in the span of just over a minute, Irving got hot just when Stevens and co wanted him to as he stretched the deficit back into double-digits with time waning. Finding Big Al for a few buckets to put the icing on the cake, the Green had officially gotten the best of KAT and the T-Wolves.
A solid road win for the C's, once again even though we saw a few starters step up a lot more, the bench played unreal. Between Mook Morris' +16 and Smart's +15 plus-minus along with Terry's +7, the second-unit actually saw a better overall plus-minus then the starters. This is the second time in the past three games this has happened. Not to suggest we should see the trend continue, it is pretty crazy to think the one part of the team we thought would be their biggest issue is now one of the biggest proponents in getting it a few wins though.
With a line of 23-7-8, it seems the rest that Kyrie received on Monday clearly paid off - and with a line of 20-8-6, it seems Al might be that ”average” either. Hopefully him, the red-hot bench, and the rest of the Celtics will continue their recent play into their tilt Monday back home against the Indiana Pacers.