BOSTON – When you’ve knocked off Golden State, chopped down the Los Angeles Clippers and left the Utah Jazz humming, ‘how did we get smashed by 27 points in our own building?’ you can understand why confidence is fairly high these days for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Their confidence is backed up by some seriously strong play which the Celtics found out first-hand as the first half ended with the Timberwolves ahead 60-58.
Boston trailed 56-49 in the second, but managed to close out the half with a 9-4 spurt. Boston had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but Jae Crowder’s shot was off the mark.
The Timberwolves have been one of the hottest teams since the all-star break, getting strong play at both ends of the floor.
Leading the way for them is Karl-Anthony Towns whose strong scoring, defense and passing makes him an extremely difficult cover for the Celtics.
But Boston’s Al Horford has been solid for the most part against Towns who ranks among the better young big men in the NBA.
But the Timberwolves are more than just the K.A.T. show.
Andrew Wiggins has steadily improved at both ends of the floor, and point guard Ricky Rubio has been playing some of his best basketball ever this season.
Meanwhile, the Celtics remained within striking distance most of the firt half with Thomas and Horford leading the way with 19 and 10 points, respectively.
Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk provided a nice spark with six and five points, respectively.
But they’ll need more at both ends of the floor if they are to continue their dominance at home against the Timberwolves, a streak that now stands at 10 straight victories.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday night’s game between Boston and Minnesota.
He has been one of the NBA’s best players since the All-Star break, and the first half of Wednesday’s game against Boston was no exception. He has 13 points and five rebounds at the half.
Even though he had 19 points and did so on 5-for-7 shooting, his scoring didn’t seem to have the dominant, difference-making, high impact that we’ve come to expect from him and the Celtics when he has really high scoring first halves like the one he had tonight.
Statistically speaking he’s the worst shooter in the NBA (his 37.4 percent career shooting mark is the worst among active players), but you wouldn’t have known it by the way he was scoring on Wednesday night. He had 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting with five assists.
He’s contributing in a big way in keeping the Celtics within striking distance. At the half he has 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Chicago blowout on Sunday looks like it was the exception and not the rule defensively for the Celtics. Boston allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 51.1 percent from the field.