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National Basketball Association
Preview
Boston at Minnesota
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Boston once could not buy a road win against the Western Conference, but it has a chance to end a six-game trip out West with a winning mark when it visits Minnesota on Wednesday. The Celtics had lost 24 straight roadies versus West teams after opening the trip with a loss, but they have won three of four since to assure themselves of at least a split on the journey. Tayshaun Prince had his best game since joining Boston by pouring in 19 points off the bench in a 99-90 win at Utah on Monday.

While some fans and perhaps others in the organization would rather the Celtics stop their surge and sink further toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference in an effort to improve draft positioning, the Timberwolves have no such concerns. They have dropped five in a row and 21 of 23 to enter Tuesday's action with the worst mark in the league, and injuries remain a major issue. Swingman Kevin Martin, who had hoped to return by now from a wrist injury that has robbed him of 34 games, has already been ruled out for Wednesday.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), FSN North (Minnesota)

ABOUT THE CELTICS (16-27): As Boston looks to rebuild with youth over the next few years, it has been the veterans who have engineered the most recent run. Evan Turner hit the game-winner in the win over Portland that snapped the 24-game skid against Western Conference teams, Avery Bradley highlighted an 18-point effort with a big shot down the stretch to sink Denver and Prince came out of nowhere to hit 7-of-10 shots and chip in five assists in the win over Utah. Even little-used Gerald Wallace has gotten into the act with eight of his 16 points on the season coming in the last two games.

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (7-37): The recent return of center Nikola Pekovic has caused Minnesota to go big, with head coach Flip Saunders choosing to keep Gorgui Dieng - who filled in for Pekovic while the latter was out with ankle and wrist ailments - in the staring five. That scenario has shifted Thaddeus Young to small forward, and he has responded by averaging 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists in two games as the starter in that role. Things may change when Martin returns, but Young remains the Timberwolves' most consistent threat, scoring at least 11 points in 11 of the last 12 contests.

BUZZER BEATERS


1. Timberwolves SF Shabazz Muhammad (abdomen) will miss his 10th straight game and is expected to see a specialist about the injury.

2. Boston PG Marcus Smart has 22 assists against just five turnovers over his last five games.

3. Celtics C Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead Boston to a 114-98 win over Minnesota at home last month.

PREDICTION: Celtics 100, Timberwolves 98
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Boston 16-27 W1 9-13 7-14 2-5 14-22 4-4 9-17
Minnesota 7-37 L5 3-17 4-19 0-2 7-35 2-7 3-25
Last Meeting
Boston Minnesota
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
12/19/14 MIN 98 BOS 114 114 43 56.5 98 37 45.2
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Boston K. Olynyk 21 61.5 3
Minnesota S. Muhammad 26 73.3 2
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Boston J. Sullinger 10 3 7
Minnesota J. Adrien 7 2 5
Assists Player  
Boston A. Bradley 7
Minnesota T. Young 6
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Boston J. Sullinger 731 46.1 85
Minnesota A. Wiggins 716 42.7 159
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Boston J. Sullinger 438 132 306
Minnesota G. Dieng 422 167 255
Assists Player  
Boston E. Turner 225
Minnesota M. Williams 257
Quickchart Matchup
Boston Off vs  Minnesota Defense
101.9 Points For
107.2 Points Against
45.2 FG%
49.4 FG%
43.3 Reb
43.1 Reb
Minnesota Off vs  Boston Defense
97.3 Points For
103.6 Points Against
43.4 FG%
45.0 FG%
43.1 Reb
44.1 Reb