Sunday, March 27, 2022

Celtics 134, Timberwolves 112: C's beat T-Wolves, take over first place in the East

The Celtics continue their huge season turnaround with a 134-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night at TD Garden to win their sixth straight.

Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 34 points on 12-of-21 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point territory, to go along with five rebounds and six assists. Jaylen Brown notched a double-double of 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep and 10 rebounds to help the C's improve to 47-28 and take over the top spot in the East for the first time this season.
"Teams manipulate where they want to play. We're not concerned about that," said Ime Udoka following the win. "There's too much closeness to try and manipulate things and pick an opponent. Home court advantage is the main thing, and let the chips fall where they're going to fall."
Derrick White finished with 15 points, six assists off the bench, while Robert Williams added 13 points and 10 rebounds before leaving the game late in the third quarter with a sprain left knee. Boston has now won 24 of their last 28 and with the Philadelphia 76ers loss to the Phoenix Suns, they have taken over the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Despite the Celtics and Miami Heat having identical records, Boston has a 2-0 season series lead, so they own the tie breaker and both teams meet one last time on Wednesday.
"It's been a journey," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "We had to find our identity. Lost some teammates; got some new guys. We've had to battle, but it's been fun. We had some tougher times, but we've benefited from it and made us better."
Anthony Edwards had 24 points, six assists and Karl Anthony Towns chipped in 19 points, five assists for the Timberwolves, who were 12-5 since the All-Star break before losing three of their last four.

Boston went on a 13-2 run to open the second quarter to take a double digit lead and never trailed, as they took a 72-49 advantage into the break.

Tatum hit a free throw to complete a four-point play to put the Celtics up 106-78, the largest margin of the night with 10.9 seconds left in the third period. 

The All-Star forward is now the league's top scorer, passing Trae Young (1,915) to finish the game with 1,923 points and counting. Tatum could become only the seventh player in franchise history to top 2,000 points in a season -- joining the likes of John Havlicek, Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McHale and Sam Jones.

It was also the seventh time this year that Tatum and Brown scored at least 30 apiece in the same game.

The Celtics were without Al Horford (personal reasons) as he will not travel with his teammates, while Williams was said to be in "quite a bit of pain" when he didn't return following his knee injury, but the team would know more after scans within the next 24 hours.
"As far as rest goes, that's the main thing," Udoka said. "We've got some guys who've got some nicks now and you have to be smart about it 
The C's travel to Toronto Monday to face the Raptors (42-32) on a second night of a back-to-back.

Game Notes:

Boston shot 56.3% from the field and 17-of-39 (43.6%) from deep, while the Timberwolves hit 53.6% of their attempts and 14-of-32 (43.8%) from 3. The Celtics outrebounded Minnesota 45-30 and assisted 27 times on 49 made baskets to the T-wolves' 26 assists on 45 made shots. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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