Celtics - Wolves review: Pekovic overwhelms C's

Celtics - Wolves review: Pekovic overwhelms C's
April 1, 2013, 10:45 pm
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C E L T I C S  P L A Y O F F  P I C T U R E 
in Eastern Conference

MINNEAPOLIS — Without their defensive anchor Kevin Garnett manning the middle, the Boston Celtics defense runs the risk of being exposed around the basket.

Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic knows this all too well as he had his way all game long in leading the Timberwolves to a 110-100 win over Boston.

Pekovic came into Monday's game averaging 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds. He had 21 points by halftime and finished with a game-high 29 points which was two points shy of tying his career-high.

His ability to completely dominate the game around the basket opened things up for the rest of his teammates.

Boston did more double-teaming of Pekovic in the second half, and that seemed to slow him down some.

But that only created more scoring opportunities for the rest of the Timberwolves players like Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea who each came off the bench to score 19 and 11 points, respectively.

Pekovic's impact was just one of the many factors that came into play Monday night. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how those factors played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Kevin Garnett (left foot inflammation) out and Paul Pierce (ankle) questionable, someone besides Jeff Green needs to have a big game for the Celtics tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: Early on, it appeared that Avery Bradley would be that guy as he scored eight point in the first quarter. Bradley, who had not scored in double figures since the C's faced Charlotte on March 16, finished with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jeff Green vs. Derrick Williams: Green continues to play at a high level for Boston as he comes into tonight's game off a game-high 27 points against New York. Williams has been an inconsistent scorer most of this season. After tallying a career-high 28 points against Chicago on March 24, he totaled 27 points in his next three games.

WHAT WE SAW: Green's numbers (10 points, seven rebounds and five assists) show the diversity to his game on Monday, but there was never a point when his imprint on the game was felt. Meanwhile, Williams did some nice things for the Timberwolves and finished with 11 points and three rebounds.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee is still not back himself after missing a couple games with an ankle sprain, but he's trending in the right direction after scoring 10 points to go with four rebounds and a blocked shot against New York on Sunday.

WHAT WE SAW: Lee was back in the starting lineup, but didn't do much - good or bad - that stood out. He finished with seven points on 3-for-8 shooting.

STAT TO TRACK:  Minnesota will look to become the latest team to beat up the Celtics on the boards and with that, give themselves a chance to win. The Timberwolves come into tonight's game ranked ninth in the league in rebounds per game with 51.3. The C's are a distant next-to-last in the NBA, with 47.6 per game.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston was just minus-3 on the boards at halftime, and were only outscored 5-2 in second-chance points. Things were similar in the second half as well. For the game, Boston was minus-six on the boards with the Celtics actually outscoring the Timberwolves, 11-9, on second-chance points.