The Celtics are in Minnesota facing off with the Timberwolves on Thursday night following their win on Monday versus the Bulls.
Kyrie Irving announced he is playing tonight after missing Monday’s game with left knee soreness helping the Celtics avoid being short-handed without their best offensive weapon against one of the best teams in the West.
“I’m in,” Irving said, according to Boston Globe reporter Adam Himmelsbach on Twitter.
The Celtics have put themselves back on track to stay in the fight for the first seed in the East after winning five of their past six games since the All-Star break. Although, each of those five wins have come against teams that are sub .500 and their lone loss happened against the team with the best record in the league, the Houston Rockets. A win against the Wolves could prove to be more convincing for the Celtics as they continue to prove that they are worthy of competing for the NBA title rather than the fluke many believe them to be.
Meanwhile the Timberwolves are having a difficult time finding a sufficient fill-in for an irreplaceable Jimmy Butler who is out for at least another three to five weeks. The T-Wolves are currently riding a two game losing streak and are 3-5 since Jimmy’s injury including the game in which he was injured in. They have dropped from the third to the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
A win versus the number two seed in the East and the best defense in the league can bring back a boost of momentum and confidence for a young team that is now without their gritty veteran leader.
With Jimmy gone, the Wolves lose a huge piece to on both ends of the floor. With him out, players like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns have to step up tremendously on both ends of the floor to keep the Wolves afloat in the playoff race with contention being airtight currently.
With five days in between their last game to Thursday night, the extra rest was more than necessary for a team coached by Tom Thibodeau who has been criticized throughout his career for giving his starters too many minutes in games causing their bodies to get tired at the end of games, especially as the season continues. Although, given how young this team is, the extra rest may not be the main problem compared to how they have to regain a rhythm to end their season on a positive note and playoff berth.
On Thursday morning, the Wolves signed point guard Derrick Rose for the remainder of the season. If Rose remains healthy, he can be a great offensive weapon for the Wolves and on court veteran leadership. It is still uncertain if Rose will play tonight after signing with the team. As of now, he’s a game time decision.
Tonight, the Celtics will top the Timberwolves 104-98.