Game Preview: Celtics at Timberwolves
The Boston Celtics will finish with a winning record on their longest road trip of the season if they can get past the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Celtics will try to send the Timberwolves to an 11th consecutive home loss and sixth in a row overall Wednesday night.
Since opening its trek with a 102-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 19, Boston (16-27) has taken three of four, with its other defeat coming by three points to league-leading Golden State on Sunday.
The Celtics bounced back with a 99-90 win over Utah the next day, their fourth game in five nights. Tayshaun Prince led the way with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five assists, his best showing since being acquired from Memphis in a three-team deal Jan. 12.
"That's what makes this special, to go through this with a young team and pull out some wins in this situation," Prince told the team's official website.
Boston went 0-5 on its longest trip in 2013-14 and hasn't finished with a winning mark on a trek this long since going 4-2 from Feb. 11-25, 2009. The team went 4-4 on an eight-game trip in March 2012.
The Celtics have lost their past two games in Minnesota but have taken the last two overall matchups, including a 114-98 victory Dec. 19. The Timberwolves (7-37) were missing five players in that game and won't have Kevin Martin (wrist), Shabazz Muhammad (oblique), Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Robbie Hummel (broken hand) for this one.
Muhammad had a team-best 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting against the Celtics in December.
Boston won't have Kelly Olynyk, who scored a team-leading 21 points in the win over Minnesota, because of a sprained right ankle that will reportedly keep him out for at least two weeks. The Celtics got rookie guard Marcus Smart back on the court Monday following a death in his family.
While Boston has won two of three during Olynyk's absence, Minnesota has continued to struggle while short-handed.
The Timberwolves are on the verge of matching the longest single-season home losing streak in team history, from Jan. 28-March 9, 2009. They've also dropped 21 of 23 overall after a 92-84 loss in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Minnesota had its worst shooting performance of the season (34.1 percent), and is averaging 84.6 points on 39.4 percent shooting during a five-game skid.
Andrew Wiggins, however, has been a bright spot, averaging 19.8 points in his last 18 games. He scored 23 Monday and helped limit Russell Westbrook to 7-of-22 shooting and 18 points, 6.7 below his season average.
"I thought that he could be a great two-way type of player, and I still believe that," coach Flip Saunders said. "He showed signs of that tonight."
Wiggins began his productive stretch after scoring five points in back-to-back contests, the first of which was in Boston. He missed eight of 10 shots versus the Celtics and Thaddeus Young, who has totaled 48 points in the past two games, missed 13 of 19 en route to finishing with 13 points.