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After entering the night tied with the Philadelphia 76ers at the top of the Atlantic Division, a Boston Celtics 100-79 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves made them the sole possessor of the division lead, as the 76ers had the night off.
The win was fueled by Kevin Garnett playing against his former team, with whom he spent the first 12 years of his career. Garnett continued to make a case for returning to the Celtics after this season by posting 24 points and 10 rebounds, while effectively battling Timberwolves star Kevin Love.
The game as a whole wasn’t the biggest challenge for the Celtics (29-22), who maintained double digit leads at the end of every quarter. Avery Bradley started and played well, scoring 17 points and going 6-9 from the floor. Rajon Rondo added 17 assists, more than the entire Timberwolves team (15). It seemed like the difference in the game, though, was Minnesota’s 20 turnovers, compared to only nine committed by Boston.
It was Garnett, though, who highlighted the victory by taking Love out of the game. While statistically the big man had 22 points and 11 rebounds, the Celtics were simply stronger on the defensive end as they physically backed Love down.
The win keeps the positive momentum in what has been a strange season for Boston, who has now won four consecutive games and is an impressive 14-5 since the All-Star Break. Garnett has been the most significant reason for the turnaround, and he’s scored 20+ points in each of the last three games.
After a day off on Saturday, the Celtics will square off with the Miami Heat (37-13) on Sunday afternoon. Their only other meeting of the season was way back in December, when Miami defeated Boston 115-107, but now the Celtics will have a chance to prove themselves as they attempt to climb back as a serious playoff team in the Eastern Conference. They will also meet Miami on two other occasions this month.