The Boston Celtics will try to recover from a late-game meltdown when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night in Minneapolis.
Boston just lost 117-113 on Christmas Day to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics led until the last minute, when Wesley Matthews scored 3 points with 30.3 seconds left to put Milwaukee in the lead.
The end spoiled a solid performance for the Celtics, who led by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter.
âLooking at it I think we can only go up from here,â said Payton Pritchard. âWe are learning how we are going to end the games. So for us we have to take it as a good thing. Now we are only growing and eventually we will get good at it and be able to deal with it. “
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has told his players to stay positive as they look towards Minnesota.
“What I said to the group was, ‘We have to understand that as a team, as a coaching staff, how to maintain these advances, especially at the end of games,” Udoka said. . âIt gets a little frustrating, and sometimes it’s as easy as taking pictures. â¦ Sometimes it is that simple, but the message is that we are very close.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is looking to respond positively after back-to-back losses. The Timberwolves won four straight games before hitting their last bump on the schedule, losing to the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz.
One bright spot for the Timberwolves has been the recent success of Jaylen Nowell, who has scored in double digits in three of his last four games. Nowell has spent much of the first part of the season watching from the bench.
âThat’s it,â Nowell said. âThe fact that I go out and they let me play the way I like to play, it’s very easy to make the transition from not playing at all to playing 18 to 20 minutes.
â(They) just tell me to keep shooting. I do my best to take the best punches necessary, because with this green light I also feel the responsibility not to take terrible punches and to keep the offense flowing.
His teammate D’Angelo Russell was impressed.
âI hope everyone is paying attention to him,â said Russell. âA young league player – you lose a player like that by not playing or getting a minute in the rotation. So it’s our job as veteran players to continue to stick with him and keep giving them that focus and letting them know, “Your time is coming”. Be ready.'”
Both teams have recently faced significant alignment issues due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Minnesota finished the weekend with eight players in Protocols, including Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. Key starters Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt were also absent.
The Celtics were also slammed. In their most recent match, they played without Juancho Hernangomez, Justin Jackson, CJ Miles, Josh Richardson, Grant Williams and others – all of whom were on health and safety protocols.
Minnesota is 9-9 at home this season. Boston is 7-11 on the road.
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