The Timberwolves shipped off All-Star Jimmy Butler and have finally clawed their way back to .500. They have gone 7-2 since trading Butler to the 76ers in return for Dario Saric and Robert Covington, the latter has led the team in scoring in the past two games.
But it’s been the defensive end of the floor where the real difference has been made. Before the trade, the Wolves were allowing a near season-worst 117.7 PPG which has improved to 99.3 in their last nine.
In contrast, the Celtics have been struggling of late, going 6-8 since starting the season 6-2 but have won their last two by big margins. Yesterday they defeated the Cavs 128-95 without Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. Kyrie Irving scored 29 points in three quarters as he sat the last to be rested for today’s back-to-back. Horford is expected to suit up while Brown will likely miss a third straight game with back bruising.