2/21 Recap: Boston Celtics' starters go off to beat Minnesota Timberwolves 127-117

Fresh off his first all-star appearance, Jayson Tatum scored 28 points tonight against the Timberwolves in Boston's 125-117 win. Photo via the Boston Celtics on Twitter @celtics. 
Fresh out of the All-Star Break, the Boston Celtics secured yet another w for the win column, this time against D'Angelo Russell and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite missing star big Karl Anthony Towns, the wolves did their best to keep this one close against a Boston team lacking their all-star point guard Kemba Walker, but we were just able to stay out of reach. The Celtics came out on top with a final score of 127-117 thanks to the overall spectacular play of the starting five.
Leading the C's this time around was Gordon Hayward, who gave us his usual well rounded night and more with 29 points4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Arguably his most impressive stat of the game, however, was his efficient shooting, as he hit 70.6% of his shots from the field only missing 5 of his 17 attempts in his 37 minutes of play. He had a really big third quarter on the offensive end in which he scored 15 points that kept the C's out front during some of the Timberwolves' biggest runs.
Although he wasn't wearing his headband this time around, Jayson Tatum still continues to impress as he escalates throughout the season. He had 28 points scoring 18 of them in the first half alone. He certainly cooled off in the second half a little bit, but in the process of all of that, he also grabbed 11 rebounds to secure another double-double and hit some big shots late in the game.
Someone dealing with some on and off injuries this season has been Daniel Theis, but tonight he looked more than ready to go. He had a double-double as early as the third quarter and after 27 minutes on the floor, his final stat line was 25 points and 16 rebounds, just barely surpassing his career highs in both categories (formerly 22 pts and 15 rebs).

After his extended all-star break due to injury concerns, Jaylen Brown returned looking good as well. He came into the game claiming he felt refreshed and was looking to bounce back from his all-star snub with even better play in the back half of the year. He certainly looked good to go, as similar to the other half of team jay he scored 25 points of his own on 58.8% shooting, while also contributing on the boards with 8 rebounds. Unfortunately, he did foul out with about 4:30 minutes left in a close game but luckily it did not end up jeopardizing the win.
Marcus Smart had a less than desirable shooting night but contributed in the floor general role that Kemba would have filled. He scored 10 points on a poor 30% field goal percentage (3-10) but had a team-high 10 assists to go along with them.
The Celtics' bench was virtually nowhere to be found tonight, which played a major role in Boston's struggle to pull away in this one. Throughout most of the first half, the C's were consistently up by 8-10 points but just could not increase their lead. As a result, the Timberwolves got right back into it in the second half making it a closer game than it had any right to be. With the exceptions of Enes Kanter's rebounding (7 rebounds) and Brad Wannamaker's minimal point production (6 points), the bench didn't do their job in reinforcing the play of the starting five which almost cost us the game. They had a combined 10 points, 2 assists, and 15 rebounds while shooting just 2 of 16 from the field.

On the other side of the ball, Minnesota also had a strong starting five that kept this one close. The duo of D'Angelo Russell (18pts, 13 asts) and Malik Beasley (27 pts, 55.6% field goal) led the way for the Wolves while their bigs chipped in on both the backboard and the scoreboard. Center Naz Reid had 19 points with a team-high 9 rebounds while their other big Juan Hernangomez had 17 points and 5 boards at the four. Their bench was not necessarily spectacular either, but they have less talent that deep in their roster than we do. Honestly, it was really a game between each of the starting fives.

The Celtics' next game will be this Sunday (2/23) afternoon against historic league rival the Los Angeles Lakers. The final matchup of the regular season for these two organizations will tip-off at 3:30 p.m. eastern time in the Staples Center out west.

Check out a highlight reel of all of tonight's top plays down below as all as the entire box score for both teams by clicking here.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654