Halftime stars, studs and duds: Can Celtics respond in second half?

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Can Celtics respond in second half?

The Minnesota Timberwolves have made a habit out of playing their best basketball in the first two quarters which held true to form against the Boston Celtics who go into the half trailing the Timberwolves 52-42. 

Minnesota, the NBA’s highest-scoring team in the first half of games, jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead only for the Celtics to respond with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game up. 

Boston led 23-21 after one quarter of play.

The Celtics went ahead by as many seven points (31-24) but the Timberwolves bounced back with an 13-2 run to lead 37-33.

Boston scored five of the game’s next six points to tie the score at 38 apiece which was as close as the game would be for the remainder of the half.

But the Celtics can take some solace in the fact that the Timberwolves have been among the NBA’s worst teams when it comes to second half scoring which includes them averaging an NBA-worst 19.3 points scored in the third quarter while the Celtics’ 25.1 points in the third ranks 16th in the league. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday’s game. 



Karl-Anthony Towns

The Big K.A.T. was a handful for the Boston Celtics in the first half, causing havoc around the rim throughout the first half. He had a near double-double with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Al Horford

It was another strong showing for Horford, who continues to deliver for the Celtics. At the half he was Boston’s only double-figure scorer with 10 points.



Isaiah Thomas

Thomas hasn’t really put his imprint on tonight’s game, but still had a solid first half. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting with two assists and zero turnovers.

Gorgui Dieng

His size and physical play around the rim was a huge plus for the Timberwolves. He had 12 points at the half along with six rebounds. 

Timberwolves’ inside scoring

Minnesota has great size and strength in its frontcourt, and that was on display in the first half. The Timberwolves dominated scoring around the rim with a decisive 34-12 advantage when it came to points in the paint. 



Avery Bradley

It was rough half for the 6-foot-2 guard, missing two of his three shot attempts to go into the half with just five points. Just as telling about his struggles was his plus/minus being -11 which was the worst by a Celtic in the first half. 

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.


Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."