Dec 16, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics power forward Jared Sullinger (7) shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Dante Cunningham (33) during the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Well that was a fun time! In a back-and-forth game highlighted by unexpected heroes, the Celtics and Timberwolves provided us with some great basketball. In a slugfest of energy, both teams received ample support from their benches. Both clubs played at least ten guys 10+ minutes as Minnesota starters couldn’t match the Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back.
Not too many players stood out for the Celtics tonight, as the scoring by committee approach proved to be most successful. Jared Sullinger did a great job hanging in there with star Kevin Love by posting 24 points and 11 rebounds, including an incredibly clutch three in the fourth to give the Celtics the lead. Avery Bradley was up to his usual pesky self on defense but also hit numerous mid range jumpers and a big corner three to build crucial momentum for Boston. But the star of tonight’s game was Kris Humphries. In his finest performance of the season, Humph played the best 21 minutes off the bench that I’ve seen all season. Doing a splendid job on the defensive end with the Timberwolves’ outstanding bigmen, Humphries also hustled to seven big rebounds while hitting four of his five shot attempts all in crucial moments. The rotation of Sullinger, Humphries, Brandon Bass, Vitor Faverani, and Kelly Olynyk were huge in the Celtics success at slowing down the Minnesota frontcourt. While Kevin Love was still able to put up 27 points and grab 14 rebounds, his 17 missed shots and nine missed threes point to the Celtics defensive successes. The Minnesota starting lineup shot under 30% due to the Celtics energy, particulary Jeff Green’s, who had two key blocks on transitions to the post. Green struggled on the offensive end, but reserves like Olynyk and Faverani made up for a lot of offensive slack.
The Timberwolves were also buoyed by their strong bench, as Dante Cunningham, Alexey Shved, and J.J Barea all contributed double-digit point totals off the bench. Barea’s damage would’ve been much more severe had it not been for Phil Pressey’s defensive feistiness. The Barea-Pressey showdown was great to watch as Pressey definitely did his best to impress coaches.
The loss for Minnesota means their Boston losing streak is stretched to ten. That’s right, the Timberwolves haven’t won a game in Boston since 2005. The win for Brad Stevens’ club pushes their record to 12-14, good enough for fourth best in the East! Thankfully my pregame prediction didn’t pan out, tonight’s victory was well-earned and can certainly be a night to look back on when Boston is looking for successful game film. That’s all for tonight, thanks for reading and come back Wednesday night as the Celtics host Detroit to continue their homestand.