Celtics get ugly win over Minnesota

Celtics, Timberwolves to play out tight game

"He was masterful as far as getting position, using his size and strength in the paint and just doing a good job of rebounding the ball, old school, going to get the ball, rebounding, putting it back and getting and-ones", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Valanciunas, who was just two points off Kyle Lowry's club record for points in a quarter.

Give credit to Kyrie Irving, who chased down a critical offensive rebound on Tatum's triple, and Semi Ojeleye, who put his hands straight into the air to contest a potential game-tying shot from Spencer Dinwiddie then did it again when the Nets had another chance in the final seconds.

At least four fouls could have been called on this play.

Smart scored eight of Boston's 37 points in a span in which the team shot 57.7 percent from the field. Smart followed with two free throws for a 12-point lead.

The Celtics withstood a 25-point, 23-rebound performance from Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns. But that was a different type of mess. It's hard but you've just got to put in the work and it will pay off.

Meanwhile, Boston's Marcus Morris sat out to let his knee recuperate but he was due to play this morning (Singapore time) at Brooklyn. Head coach Brad Stevens probably thought he could get away with downsizing against Brooklyn's bigs, but also may just have been trying ANYTHING to free up the offense. The Celtics, after a 39.1 percent first half, had dipped to 33.9 percent with 6:24 left in the third, with Brown at 2-for-12 and Baynes at 2-for-9 encountering serious trouble at the rim.

Give them credit for this: they never stopped defending. That number dives to 102.9 when he's on the bench. Tatum swatted four shots and stole the ball twice before halftime. When they play like that, and Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are shooting the way they have lately, this team looks borderline unstoppable. How rare was Tatum's six-block, three-steal game? One was from a 91-84 road loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

This game turned into a grind early and only grew grimier.

"We just have to be really good defensively". Bodies flew everywhere, neither team could score with any type of consistency, and, for better and worse (mostly the latter), isolation basketball reigned supreme. Aron Baynes provided a little traction with back-to-back hoops early in the fourth during a 11-3 run that helped the Celtics to a 77-68 lead. Brooklyn downsized shortly thereafter, and, for the rest of the game, both teams basically used all perimeter players. They are dominating games when Kyrie Irving barely has to carry a scoring load, they are back to rebounding well and their defense is approaching what we saw during the 16 game winning streak.

If you do like Boston, though, look to increase their odds a bit by backing them to win between 1-10 points at $2.70.

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