Maybe my title is a little bit of an exaggeration; Kevin Love scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. But Timberwolves puns are hard, so sue me.
This game was both closer and not as close as the final score indicated. The Wolves led by four at halftime and trailed by just seven at the end of the third quarter. But the Celtics’ defense locked down in the 4th, stopping Minnesota cold for nearly four minutes and holding the Wolves to five points in the first seven minutes. During that time, the Celtics ran the lead out to 14 and held on pretty handily the rest of the way. The Wolves scored seven garbage-time points in the final two minutes to make the game appear closer, but after the Celtics went up by 14, the outcome was never really in doubt.
Let’s get to some bullet points:
- Nobody uploaded Rondo’s spinning reverse layup to YouTube yet? For shame, internet.
- Here’s something I really really didn’t expect to say: The Celtics outrebounded Minnesota 45-41. Minnesota is 4th in the NBA in opponent rebounds, meaning they don’t allow other teams to hit the boards very much, so I was fully expecting a complete massacre on the glass. But Garnett grabbed 10 on a huge night (also blasting Minnesota with 18 points on 8-13 shooting), Bass had eight, and Sully picked up seven. Of note (because I spent a ton of words discussing him earlier today), Jeff Green contributed just four rebounds, but if Garnett, Bass and Sully give Boston 25 boards between the three of them, four is actually plenty for Green. Allowing 13 offensive boards is less awesome, but it was really fun to see the Celtics obviously giving a crap, especially in the second half.
- Slowly but surely, the Celtics are finding themselves, most notably Jason Terry, who shot 7-10 from the field for 17 points. Terry is going to have off nights, but if the past few games are any indication, even on his off nights he’s going to understand what shots he should be taking. On a team full of talented players, this self-awareness (and extreme self-confidence) is going to be crucial. And to be clear: Tonight was not an off night. At all.
- The Celtics got broken down several times by ball-handlers going to the basket, especially in the first half. But they also looked more comfortable on their defensive rotations, swarming both ball handlers and post players. This was both good and bad. The Celtics are clearly starting to get their legs (and minds) under them defensively, but they also gave up some offensive boards because everyone was focused on the rotations. But it was still encouraging to see some solid Boston defense.
- The Celtics were 4-17 from 3-point range, but they were 4-7 on spot-up 3-point attempts. They were also 0-4 on off-screen 3-pointers, once again proving that Ray Allen’s old sets in which he would scamper through four different screens before jacking up a triple really don’t work with the personnel on this team.
More tomorrow, but for now, enjoy a good night and (hopefully) a nice step in the right direction for the C’s.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.