|Photo: Associated Press|
In their first game without Rondo, the Celtics did a great job in passing the ball and opening up good scoring opportunities.
The Minnesota Timberwolves kept the game close until the fourth quarter, that's when the Celtics pulled away with a 114-98 victory, their third consecutive win.
Kelly Olynyk, who has been doing a great job ever since he was moved to the bench, scored a team-high 21 points. Six players finished in double figures for the Celtics, including Jeff Green, who ended his night with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," coach Brad Stevens said after the game. "I thought the ball was moving great. We were scoring in the second half and once we started getting stops, we kept scoring."Celtics had a three point lead halfway through the fourth quarter, 95-92, then went on a 12-2 run. They also shot 56 percent from the floor and outscored the Timberwolves in the paint, 68-48.
|Photo: Bob DeChiara (USA TODAY)|
"What I was actually thinking about is the one thing that this team, and it's really hard any time you lose a guy this caliber, no question about it, but the one thing that this team maybe will lean back on would be most of the preseason, that was our team," Stevens said.
Almost everyone who played completed an assist last night against the Timberwolves (29 team assists). Avery Bradley dished out a team-high seven assists to go with his 14 points. Bradley talked about what Rondo meant to him after the game.
"I was obviously down," Bradley said about Rondo leaving. "He's like an older brother to me."Now that the Celtics don't have Rondo, look for them to rely on a motion offense. Celtics have proven that they're one of the top scoring teams in the league, so scoring points won't be a problem. The defense has and will always be the main concern for this club. However, last night it was the defense that made the difference in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota's Shabazz Muhammad scored a game-high 26 points for the Timberwolves and Chase Budinger chipped in 19. But the Timberwolves couldn't build a solid lead. Their biggest lead of the night was only three points.
"When we stiffened up defensively, that's when I thought we pushed the game out," coach Stevens said.It's only the second time this season that the Celtics have won three straight. They will hope to make it four Sunday night when they take on the Miami Heat.
In his last four games, Olynyk is averaging 19.2 points. Olynyk, who was taken out of the starting lineup just before December, has been the best player off the bench for the Celtics. Tyler Zeller, who took Olynyk's spot in the starting lineup, continues to bump his averages in points and rebounds. He's averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds this month.