W2W4: Celtics vs. Wolves (Game 74 of 82)

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
12:00
PM ET
AP Photo/Genevieve RossIt's Celtics vs. Wolves, even those neither of these guys are likely to be on the floor.
The Boston Celtics (38-35, 13-24 away) visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (26-46, 17-19 home) on Monday night at the Target Center (8 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

* STARLESS NIGHT?: Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted strongly that he'll sit Paul Pierce on Monday night due a sore right ankle, while Kevin Garnett, while along for this brief two-game road trip, remains on a two-week rest plan due to left ankle inflammation. On the second night of a back-to-back, that could mean some mix-and-match lineups in Minnesota, where the likes of Terrence Williams and DJ White could see extended action. For the Wolves, Nikola Pekovic was questionable with his own ankle woes. The Celtics will get a look at Ricky Rubio, who missed the first meeting in Boston, but is coming off a near triple-double effort against Memphis (23 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists).

* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: The Timberwolves rank 26th in the league, offensively, averaging 0.888 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. Minnesota ranks 27th in spot-up shooting and is the worst catch-and-shoot team in the league. Pekovic is the team's most efficient scorer (1.003 ppp, 83rd percentile), but the team spreads out its offensive touches with Kevin Love lost for the season. Defensively, the Timberwolves are middle of the pack at 15th overall allowing 0.931 points per play. They are fifth in the league against spot-up shooting, but injuries have left them susceptible in the post. Jose Juan Barea is the most efficient defender among the top rotation players, allowing 0.782 points per play (84th percentile).

* STIEMSMA IN FOCUS: With many of the stars sidelined, the most intriguing matchup of the night could be old friend Greg Stiemsma jousting with Shavlik Randolph (after Friday's breakout game, Randolph had a tough night in New York) in a battle of backup bigs. Stiemsma, who the Wolves lured away from Boston with their financial flexibility, is averaging 3.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks over 15 minutes per game in 67 appearances (16 starts). His rebounding numbers are down (when the Wolves are healthy, there's more bodies to compete with up there) and his defensive numbers have suffered outside of Boston's system. Stiemsma actually ranked in the 93rd percentile last season, allowing 0.711 points per play (opponents shot just 34.7 percent against him) as he thrived late in the year while often sharing the floor with Garnett. This season in Minnesota? Stiemsma is allowing 0.872 points per play, ranking in the 46th percentile.

* CRUISING TO THE FINISH LINE: Of Boston's nine remaining games, this is first of six against teams currently under .500. In fact, the Celtics' schedule really eases up here and a four-game homestand looms starting with Wednesday's visit from the Detroit Pistons. Even as Boston gets players like Pierce and Garnett some additional rest, these are winnable games that should help the Celtics stand firm at the No. 7 spot (now 2 games back of Atlanta, which also has a softer remaining schedule, it's going to be tough for Boston to shimmy up).

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

PODCASTS

Baseball Tonight - Lester Moving?

Buster Olney talks to Tim Kurkjian and Bill Brink about the teams most likely to make a move for Jon Lester. Plus, Matt Gelb on why the Phillies have stayed so quiet.

Baseball Tonight - Lester Moving?

Buster Olney and Jayson Stark talk about the chances that Jon Lester and David Price will be moved before the deadline. Plus, Roch Kubatko on the Orioles' momentum.

Tedy Bruschi, NFL

ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi weighs in on the responsibility Tom Brady shoulders for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski's physicality and how New England will use Darrelle Revis.

Baseball Tonight

Buster Olney talks to Alex Speier, Karl Ravech and Justin Havens about whether the Red Sox will move Jon Lester before the trade deadline, pace of play and much more.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9