Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Celtics

The Timberwolves continue to keep themselves in the Western Conference’s playoff race, and as they prepare for their final game in March the Wolves know they need to take advantage of every matchup from here on out in order to snag a postseason berth.
That makes tonight’s home matchup against the Boston Celtics an important springboard into April. Minnesota and Boston will tip off at 7 p.m. tonight at Target Center, and each team will likely look at this game as one necessary to help bolster their playoff hopes.
Minnesota currently sits 11th in the Western Conference—2.5 games behind both Utah and Houston, who are tied for the 7th and 8th spots. The Celtics hold the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference and are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but they’ve also got New York and Milwaukee surging in the 8th and 9th spots. Boston is 10-14 on the road this season.
Minnesota has played just one home game in the past 20 days, but the Wolves are 13-12 at Target Center and hope to stay above .500 at home with a win against the Celtics tonight. Boards and ball movement
The Celtics are the league’s top assist team this season, dishing off 23.5 assists per game. It all starts with point guard Rajon Rondo, who is second only to Steve Nash in the NBA with 10.8 assists per night. That’s the second best APG total of his career—he had 11.2 last season. But the Celtics also get 4.8 assists a night from small forward Paul Pierce, 2.9 from Kevin Garnett and 2.5 from Ray Allen. Minnesota will need to be active defensively tonight to make sure the Celtics’ ball movement doesn’t create too many open looks.
On the flip side, Boston is 30th in the league in rebounding at 38.2 boards per game. Garnett is the team’s leading rebounder at 8.1 boards per night, and no one else is averaging more than 5.9 per contest. The boards could be a big factor in this game, as Wolves forward Kevin Love boasts the second best rebounds per game total in the league at 13.9 a night. He snatched 19 rebounds on Wednesday against Charlotte and 21 on Sunday against Denver. If center Nikola Pekovic returns after missing five games with bone spurs in his right ankle, it could pose more problems on the glass for Boston. He’s listed as questionable tonight, and if he plays he’ll bring that brute force in the paint that led to him averaging 9.7 rebounds in February and 8.5 boards in March—along with 12 double-doubles.Love continues to roll