Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager
Mar 7, 2018 4:52 PM ET
In the middle of probably their toughest stretch of the season, the Wolves host the Celtics at Target Center on Thursday night.
The Celtics, even without Gordon Hayward, sit at 45-20, second in the East. The Wolves are 38-28, sixth in the West.
Boston is about depth and balance. The Celtics rank first in defensive rating and while their offense is ranked 16th out of 30 teams, it’s still led by Kyrie Irving (who is questionable on Thursday with a knee injury) and Al Horford – two All-Stars.
“Their defense is terrific, and it has been for a long time,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s practice. “You can see offensively, they’re playing at a very high level also. It’s a very deep team and they’ve had some guys who have been in a lot of big games. They also have the young guys who are extremely talented.”
Even without Gordon Hayward, who broke his foot in the first game, and possibly without Irving on Thursday, this is still an extremely deep team. It has six players hitting double-digits and Danny Ainge has hit on draft picks like Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier.
After a rough stretch in the middle of the season, Boston has won five of its last six games.
“That’s the league. Especially with them. The way they started the season, with Hayward going down, the first game, everyone was like ‘there’s their season,’ but they found a way collectively, obviously Kyrie’s’ the head of the snake,” Wolves guard Jamal Crawford said. “They’ve been impressive.”
Minnesota fell to Boston 91-84 back on Jan. 5, but a lot has changed since then. The Wolves had a healthy Jimmy Butler. In the four games since Butler’s knee injury, the Wolves are 2-2.
Tipoff on Thursday is set for 7 p.m. on TNT and 830 WCCO.