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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celtics Exact Revange on the Timberwolves for an Earlier Beating This Season

Tangible evidence for how far the Celtics have come in only one month: on November 16, they were embarrassed 106-88 in Minnesota. Tonight at TD Garden in the teams' only other meeting of the season, Boston (12-14 overall, 7-6 home) outlasted Minnesota (12-13 overall, 5-9 away) 101-97. The Celts are maybe the third best team in the extremely weak Eastern Conference so it seems like the new plan is to win as much as they can with this group (thus upping their trade value).

Kevin Love (game-high 27 points, 14 rebounds) is still one of the best players in the NBA but unfortunately, he's also employed by a club that can't get over the hump once again. Monster Nikola Pekovic (13 points, 7 rebounds) was the only other Timberwolves starter in double-figures. Dante Cunningham had 12 points and six rebounds off the bench along with 10 points apiece from Northeastern's J.J. Barea (11 assists) and Alexey Shved.

Without Rajon Rondo (who has been cleared to practice), the Celtics lack a true superstar but they can win the Atlantic Division this season with a solid team that plays unselfishly with a very smart head coach (Brad Stevens) in total control. Jared Sullinger (24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) had one of his best games as a pro. Avery Bradley added 19 points and five rebounds and Jordan Crawford (15 points) was the final Celtic with double figures.

Coming into this campaign, you would have thought the Celtics couldn't win when Jeff Green pulls one of his infamous no-shows. Well he scored eight points tonight but teammates like Kelly Olynyk (9 points) and Kris Humphries (8 points, 7 rebounds) picked him up off the bench. Maybe it is because so many of them have something to prove in the NBA (to cash in) or here but there are plenty of motivated players on the Celtics this season (hence first-place in the Atlantic Division).

It was tight the whole way even though it felt that Boston was in control. The Celtics were up 29-21 after the first quarter and 51-50 at halftime. Boston took the third quarter (23-19) and held off Minnesota's mild charge in the fourth (28-27). The only statistic that was much different for both teams is that the C's shot 44.2% from the field while Minnesota was 37.8%.

Up next, the Celts host the Pistons (12-14, 2nd in Central Division) on Wednesday (7:30, CSN). Detroit beat Boston 87-77 in the third game of the young season on November 3 in the Motor City.

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