Keys to the Game: Celtics 91, Timberwolves 84
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
The Boston Celtics had a challenging offensive start to the third quarter Friday night, as they missed 12 of their first 14 shots out of the break against the Minnesota Timberwolves and found themselves trailing 55-47 a little more than midway through the frame.
Then suddenly something clicked for Boston. After missing seven consecutive field goals, the C’s made eight of their next 11, as they closed out the period on a 17-7 run that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Daniel Theis broke Boston’s four-minute field goal drought with a 3-pointer off a dish from Kyrie Irving at the 4:38 mark, which brought Boston within four points of the Wolves. Karl-Anthony Towns would respond with a fade-away jumper on the other end, but that would be the second-to-last shot Minnesota would make for the rest of the frame.
Al Horford then missed a hook shot on Boston’s next possession, but Marcus Smart was there to tip it in to extend Boston’s offensive momentum.
From the 2:48 mark to the end of the third quarter, Boston would make six of seven field goal attempts, after not being able to make a single shot over a four-minute and 12-second span earlier in the frame. Minnesota, meanwhile, only shot 1-for-7 during the final four minutes of the third quarter.
Kyrie Irving's finger-roll layup with 1.6 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Celtics a 66-62 advantage heading into the final frame, and they would not relinquish that lead for the rest of the night, as they walked away with a 91-84 win over Minnesota.
Kyrie Irving had a near-triple-double Friday night (16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists), but Marcus Smart was the true hero of the game for Boston. The Celtics experienced a slow start on the offensive end, but Smart was the one player who consistently made shots throughout the night.
Through the first three quarters, Smart, who is usually known more for his defense than his offense, had accounted for exactly one quarter of Boston's field goal makes. He had made seven shots at the time, while no other Boston player had made more than four.
Smart finished the game with 18 points, as he shot 8-of-9 from 2-point range and connected on both of his free throw attempts. He also grabbed three rebounds – two on the offensive end – dished out three assists, committed zero turnovers, and had a game-best plus/minus rating of plus-17.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics had five players score in double figures, led by Marcus Smart's 18-point effort.
- Kyrie Irving stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
- Karl-Anthony Towns paced the game in points (25) and rebounds (23).
- Aside from Towns, no other Minnesota player grabbed more than four rebounds.
- The Celtics dominated the battle on the boards, 56-43.
- Boston's bench accounted for 42 points, while Minnesota's second unit only scored 20 points.
- The Celtics made only 20 of their first 60 field goal attempts, but finished the game by making 18 of their last 34 shots.
- Both teams logged six steals, with Jimmy Butler snagging a game-high of three.
- The Celtics had 17 offensive rebounds to Minnesota's nine.
- Butler and Andrew Wiggins both shot just 3-of-12 from the field for Minnesota.
- The Celtics held Minnesota to a season-low 84 points.
- It marked the second straight game that the C's held their opponent to a season-low in points, after limiting Cleveland to 88 points Wednesday night.
Quote of the Night
Coach (Brad Stevens) came in (the locker room) and said, ‘We put up enough bricks to build a house tonight.' But we just stuck with it and our defense came and got us the victory.
Marcus Smart on Boston's defense making up for its lack of offense.