Game Preview: Timberwolves at Celtics
BOSTON - The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to rely heavily on the outside shot.
But the way Kevin Love and company have been shooting of late, that hasn't been a problem.
They'll look to remain hot from the perimeter Monday night when they visit the Boston Celtics, who own one of the league's top 3-point defenses.
The Timberwolves hit a season-high 12 shots in 26 attempts from long range in Sunday's 101-93 victory at Memphis. Love was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, finishing with 30 points and nine rebounds as the team took its third win in four games. Minnesota is hitting 44.1 percent of its 3-point attempts during that stretch.
Love was coming off a season-high 42 points while going 8 of 9 from 3-point range in Friday's 117-110 loss in San Antonio. He's averaging 31.0 points over his last four games while hitting 17 of 29 from deep. Sunday's performance was just the second time this season he failed to record a double-double.
"It's crazy," said J.J. Barea, who was 3 of 5 from 3-point range. "It opens up the drive for everybody. Everybody else can play freely. You know they are going to have to pay attention the rest of the game to him."
Love and Kevin Martin have combined for 104 of Minnesota's 184 3-pointers.
The Celtics have been one of the league's better teams in terms of defending the 3-point shot, limiting opponents to 32.5 percent, including 28.0 percent over their last three games.
However, Minnesota took a 106-88 home victory over Boston on Nov. 16 despite going 7 of 23 from 3-point range. Love was 2 of 4 and had 23 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double in the series. Boston's offense was its own worst enemy, shooting 39.5 percent from the field while committing 22 turnovers. Avery Bradley scored 27 but leading scorer Jeff Green (16.9 ppg) was 0 for 6 with a season-low two points.
The Celtics limited the New York Knicks to 5 of 21 3-point shooting in a 90-86 home win on Friday, rallying from an 11-point deficit after squandering a 17-point first-half lead.
"I wouldn't want to go through it again, but that's exactly what our team needed," Stevens said. "We needed to have a lead, lose it, be backed up against the wall and figure out a way to win."
While Boston leads the woeful Atlantic Division, the team has struggled against Western Conference opponents, going 2-7. Its only wins are against Denver and Utah.
Martin - Minnesota's second-leading scorer at 20.6 points per game - will be trying to break out of a slump as he has totaled only 19 over his last three contests on 5-for-24 shooting. He's also struggled in his last four games versus Boston, going 15 for 47 while averaging 11.5 points.
The Celtics had won 11 straight in the series prior to dropping the last two meetings.
The Timberwolves haven't won in Boston since March 6, 2005. and are seeking their first season series sweep since 1999-2000.