In a battle between two interconference foes, the Boston Celtics will travel to play the Minnesota Timberwolves. This will mark the second of two games between Boston and Minnesota, with the Celtics having won the first by a score of 104-94.
Will we see a different result on April 1?
The Celtics enter this game with a record of 38-35 overall and 13-24 on the road. They've gone 4-6 during their past 10 and are clinging to seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff structure.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are 26-46 overall and 17-19 at home. They're also 4-5 during their past nine games after losing 10 of their previous 12.
So who will win this one and how will it transpire? Let's find out.
Time: Monday, April 1 at 8:00 p.m. EDT
TV: CSN New England & My29 WFTC
Records: Boston Celtics (38-35, 13-24 road) at Minnesota Timberwolves (24-46, 17-19 home)
Betting Line: N/A
Boston Celtics Injury Report
Paul Pierce, Sore Right Ankle, Questionable
Rajon Rondo, Partially Torn Right ACL, Out
Jared Sullinger, Back Surgery, Out
Minnesota Timberwolves Injury Report
Malcolm Lee, Knee & Hip Surgery, Out
Kevin Love, Broken Hand, Out
Nikola Pekovic, Sprained Left Ankle, Questionable
Brandon Roy, Various Knee Injuries, Out
Key Storyline: Returning to Minnesota without KG?
Could we see KG return to where it all started by taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves? Or will he be out again?
We're inclined to believe the latter.
With or without Garnett, this is likely to be a tough win for either team. Since Garnett joined the Celtics in 2007, Boston and Minnesota have played 10 games.
Five of those games have been decided by three points or less.
Key Matchup: Avery Bradley vs. Ricky Rubio
The Minnesota Timberwolves are led by one of the NBA's most promising point guards. Spanish import Ricky Rubio continues to develop into an elite facilitator, all the while developing other areas of his game.
In order to have success against Boston, however, Rubio must overcome defensive specialist Avery Bradley.
Bradley has made a living out of locking down opposing point guards. Not only can he create turnovers, but Bradley is a master at forcing jump shots and defending the pick-and-roll.
That's a great way to slow Rubio down.
Bradley is more than capable of picking Rubio up off of the dribble and forcing him to step back. That could pose problems, as Rubio is shooting 24.2 percent from beyond the arc.
How well Rubio overcomes Bradley's defensive pressure should decide this game.
X-Factor: Jeff Green, Boston Celtics
Jeff Green is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. On the one hand, he's easy to root for due to his overcoming heart surgery and one of the most well-rounded forwards in the NBA.
On the other hand, Green has been wildly inconsistent throughout his NBA career—until now.
Green had a coming out party on March 18, scoring 43 points against the Miami Heat. Many believed that to be an anomaly, as has proven to be nothing short of an inconsistent product in the scoring department.
Over the span of his past four games, however, Green is averaging 23.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals.
Boston doesn't need Green to post those exact numbers, but he must produce at a high level. Andrei Kirilenko is an elite all-around defender and Greg Stiemsma will cut off the paint for penetrating scorers.
It's up to Green to lead Boston with his versatility and alleviate the pressure off Paul Pierce.
The Boston Celtics are in dire need of a victory. They've lost six of their past eight and rest just 2.5 games above the Milwaukee Bucks.
Who will win?
With a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, however, the Celtics will go a long way towards preserving their postseason positioning. Expect them to come through as they need to.
With or without Garnett, the Celtics will hold an advantage due to their perimeter shooting. Green should counter Kirilenko and Courtney Lee's transition burst will create a quality source of offensive production.
With Bradley slowing down Rubio, the Celtics will be able to control the pace of this game.
Kirilenko will keep this one interesting, with Alexey Shved attacking the basket with efficiency. Unfortunately, the T-Wolves are far too depleted by injuries to hold on for this win.
Boston will earn a much-needed W.