The Celtics earned their fifth stright victory after defeating the Wolves 91-84 at TD Garden last evening.
During this streak, the Celtics have held opponents to 94 points per 100 possessions which is a 6 point improvement over their NBA leading 100 points allowed per 100 possessions on the season. An impressive feat when you consider they’ve played the Cavs, Wolves and Rockets during that span.
Boston has now beaten the top 6 teams in the NBA at TD Garden this season. The home court advantage is real.
The spark plug Aron Baynes
Brad Stevens decided to start the 4th quarter with a rotation not yet seen this season when Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis joined Smart, Irving and Rozier.
The Celtics led 66-62 when the 4th quarter began before this unit led by Baynes took over. Baynes hit a jumper from the elbow before his tip in on a rim roll off a Pick and roll with Kyrie Irving. The big Kiwi grabbed his eighth rebound of the night which led to a sweet Kyrie Irving transition floater. Two stops later, Baynes recorded his 10th rebound in the game when he crashed the boards to keep the Celtics possession alive. After another Celtics miss, Terry Rozier finally drained a trey that put the Celtics up 77-68.
Baynes kept on rolling when he rocked the rim with a dunk that put Boston up 83-73. Irving deserves a hat tip setting up that Baynes dunk after he hustled down a long rebound. The center finished his night off by cutting off a Jamal Crawford drive towards the baseline. Crawford forced a careless pass back towards the middle of the court that was picked off and sent Marcus Smart in transition resulting in two free throws that kept the Celtics up by double digits.
The Celtics crashed the glass to the tune of a 56 rebound performance. The shooting was abysmal for both teams from beyond the arc which led to plenty of opportunities with the Celtics holding a clear advantage in that battle. At one point the Celtics were 3-of-22 They finished the night with a season best 17 offensive boards scoring 19 second chance points off of those offensive rebounds. That along with strong offensive play inside, helped the Celtics outscore Minnesota 50-24 inside the painted area.
The aforementioned Aron Baynes led the way with 10 rebounds, matched by Daniel Theis. Irving and Terry Rozier each added 9 boards from the guard position.
The Bench dominates again
Is this becoming a habit? The Boston second unit that struggled so badly early in the season continues to have a huge, positive impact. The starters improved to a mealey 8-of-25 shooting after Jaylen Brown his a three in the waning moments of the first half. On the other hand, the second unit poured in a 10-of-19 effort.
The usual suspects led the way.
In typical Marcus Smart fashion, he shoots well when most everyone else is building brick houses. Smart finished his evening shooting 8-if-13 from the floor. He had 8 points before the game even reached the 8 minute mark of the second quarter. His 18 foot, off-the-dribble jumper ripped twine on three different occasions. He mixed in a couple of floaters and a very Marcus Smart-like tip in off of an Al Horford miss. Smart led all Celtics scorers with 18 points on the night.
Rozier finished his night with 14 points and 9 rebounds with a strong 4-of-5 inside the arc. Rozier ha snow scored on double-digits for the sixt consecutive game.
Smart’s plus-17 and Rozier’s plus-14 led all Celtics.
When all was said and done, Boston’s bench shot a combined 53 % from the floor with 42 points, 24 rebounds and 5 dimes.
The Celtics will head to Brooklyn to face the Nets tonight at 6 PM.