Wolves vs. Celtics Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves vs. Celtics 6:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 1130 AM

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.

Notable Injuries:
* Kevin Love (groin) - QUESTIONABLE
* Nikola Pekovic (hip) - OUT

* Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles tendon) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Troy Murphy (ankle) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Jermaine O'Neal (knee) - OUT
* Von Wafer (calf) - OUT

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
For a majority of the season, the Celtics were considered the top team in the Eastern Conference and a favorite to reach the Finals once again. At the trade deadline Boston decided to ship its defensive anchor at the center position, surprising the league while potentially hindering a feared frontcourt. Kendrick Perkins is now out West with the playoff bound Thunder and the Celtics are just 9-6 since the deal that landed Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic in Beantown. Meanwhile, the Bulls are red-hot with a 9-1 record over their last 10 to streak past Boston for the No. 1 spot in the conference. At 50-21 with back-to-back home losses, the Celtics are searching for consistency during a crucial four-game road trip that begins in Minneapolis. Boston is still waiting for the upcoming return of Shaquille O’Neal as he works back from a sore Achilles tendon and Jermaine O’Neal is sidelined with a sore left knee.

Last Time Out
The Bobcats battled back from 13 down in the fourth quarter to upset the Celtics on their home floor 83-81 on Friday night.

Kevin Love missed his second straight game and the Wolves dropped their sixth consecutive contest in a 111-103 loss to the Thunder on Friday.

The Numbers Game
The assumption was the Celtics defense would take a step back following the Perkins trade. However, Boston’s offense has stalled over its last nine games. The Celtics have not reached the century mark since March 11 and are averaging only 86 points per game during that stretch.

Match-up to Watch
Luke Ridnour vs. Rajon Rondo
Few players in the NBA can dictate the outcome of the game without scoring buckets. Rondo is one of those unique talents that controls the pace and effectively places the ball in the perfect position for his teammates to be successful. Case in point, the first meeting between the two teams when the Celtics floor general only scored six points but dished 16 of his team’s 22 total assists in a 96-93 victory. Ridnour, Jonny Flynn, and the Wolves wings will have to limit Rondo’s penetration inside the paint and force him to shoot deep jumpers.

What to Look For
Kevin Garnett missed the first meeting in January and now Love’s status is up in the air due to a left groin injury. Love stayed in Minneapolis during Minnesota’s two-game road trip in Dallas and Oklahoma City. On Saturday afternoon, the league’s leading rebounder returned to practice and was upgraded to questionable for the contest tonight. Center Nikola Pekovic was ruled out with a strained right hip, leaving the Wolves thin inside the paint and Love’s potential presence would certainly help counter Garnett on the glass.

Speaking of the frontcourt, Anthony Randolph should be commended for his recent play by replacing Love in the starting lineup during the past two games. Randolph combined for 55 points and 26 rebounds while starting his own double-double streak. Head coach Kurt Rambis may elect to utilize a small frontline and instruct his squad to push the pace against an older and less athletic Boston team. Randolph is a key component to that strategy with his ability to run the floor and finish in transition. Either way, Minnesota will be challenged offensively against the league’s stingiest defense, allowing just 90.8 points per game.
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