Brandon Bass did his best. But two games into a stretch in which they will face some of the league’s top big men, the Celtics will need more than just his best.
First LaMarcus Aldridge, now Kevin Love. Next up, Dwight Howard. The Celtics made their latest stop in their all-beast tour with a visit to Minnesota on Saturday, and the results were not much different from Friday’s. Another All-Star big man, another relatively easy double-double against the overmatched Celtics front line.
Love breezed to 23 points and 12 rebounds in Minnesota’s 106-88 win despite the work of Bass, who once again put in a hard night’s work against a forward who, physically, he doesn’t match up with all that well. Making matters worse for the Celtics, center Nikola Pekovic and shooting guard Kevin Martin picked up what little slack Love left. The Wolves owned the post with a 52-28 advantage on points in the paint and a 27-18 edge in second chance points.
Vitor Faverani did about as well off the bench as can be expected from a first-year NBA center against one of the NBA’s strongest post players. Bass had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Faverani had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk, who really does not possess the size to contend with Pekovic and Love, logged only 14 minutes of action.
The Celtics get two days off before taking on Howard and the Rockets. They’ll need every moment.
Jeff Green pulled off another of his great disappearing acts. But it wasn’t fun and entertaining, like Penn and Teller. It was more brooding and unwatchable, like Criss Angel.
Green missed all six shots he took and committed four turnovers in 30 minutes on Saturday, proving to be little more than a bystander in the Celtics loss. Green did record seven rebounds and two blocks, but the Celtics needed more than some junkyard dog work from him in order to compete with the Wolves. If not for a pair of free throws, Green would have been held scoreless completely.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens had no explanation for Green’s off night.
“You have to ask Jeff,” Stevens told reporters. “I don’t know the answer to that. I thought [Corey] Brewer and [Robbie] Hummel did a great job on him.”
That does not sound like a coach who knows what to expect from a player who is supposed to be his best healthy player. Oh, speaking of the Celtics’ best healthy player …
Green wasn’t the only Celtics player who seemed to go missing in Minny. Jared Sullinger and Gerald Wallace, the two players actually vying for the title of the Celtics’ best healthy player so far with Rajon Rondo out, combined for five points on 2-for-10 shooting on Saturday. The low point total is nothing new for Wallace, who has focused on setting up teammates, but he registered just one assist. Sullinger’s off night was glaring, seeing as it came less than 24 hours after he scored a career-high 26 points against Portland.
Although he maintains that he can be a point guard, Avery Bradley has embraced the “shooting” aspect of being the Celtics’ shooting guard ever since Jordan Crawford joined the starting five. Bradley has looked for his own shot more frequently of late, and he took that to extremes on Saturday.
Bradley launched 23 shots for a season-high 27 points, but it wasn’t just the sheer volume that was notable. He fired up jump shots and 3-pointers with abandon, often not waiting to see if there were even any other options. If that sounds selfish, in fact it was exactly what the Celtics needed. With Green, Sullinger and Wallace all taking the night off offensively, the Celtics might not have gotten on the scoreboard at all if not for Bradley’s aggressiveness.