Boston Celtics

Celtics-Wolves takeaways: Tatum's heroics keep C's undefeated at home

Tatum scored 26 of his 45 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in Wednesday night's win.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Three Key Storylines

  • Jayson Tatum plays the hero
  • Jaylen Brown still scorching
  • Finals preview no longer farfetched

The Boston Celtics remain undefeated at TD Garden this season after a "Game of the Year" candidate vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wednesday night's matchup was a thriller from start to finish that resulted in the C's improving to 18-0 on their home court, their most consecutive home wins to start a season in franchise history. Boston led the entire first half, but Minnesota crawled back into the game late in the second quarter and took control in the third. The Western Conference leader led by as many as nine points late in the final frame, then the Celtics went on a run.

The C's ripped off nine unanswered points. The run was capped off by an incredible sequence in which Jayson Tatum missed his second free throw, Derrick White snagged the offensive rebound, and Jrue Holiday drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 25.3 seconds left.

Minnesota tied it, and Tatum's game-winner attempt rimmed out, but the Celtics forced overtime after appearing to be dead in the water just minutes earlier.

Tatum (45 points) took over with 26 points between the fourth quarter and OT to lead Boston to a gritty 127-120 victory. Jaylen Brown also had himself a night with 35 points, making up for the absence of Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion).

Timberwolves stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 and 25 points, respectively. Naz Reid added 19 points off the bench. This was an impressive performance by a Minnesota team that arrived in Boston at 1 p.m. ET on the second night of a back-to-back and was without key starters Mike Conley (rest) and Rudy Gobert (left hip soreness).

The East-leading Celtics (29-8) will visit the second-place Milwaukee Bucks (25-12) on the second night of a back-to-back Thursday night. First, here are three takeaways from Wednesday's defeat.

Jayson Tatum plays the hero

Tatum added another signature game to his collection on Wednesday night. The Timberwolves' top-ranked defense had no answer for the Celtics' superstar, especially in crunch time.

He was on the way to a solid night with 19 points heading into the fourth quarter. When he subbed in with 8:14 to go in regulation, he reached another level.

Tatum drilled a clutch 3-pointer that cut the deficit to two with 1:41 remaining. From there, he took over to almost single-handedly propel Boston to victory.

Tatum ended up scoring 26 of his 45 points between the fourth quarter and overtime. In total, he shot an efficient 13-of-26 from the floor and 6-of-11 from 3, continuing his recent hot streak from beyond the arc.

He topped off his killer performance with his "kiss of death" and a mean mug that will live on in GIF form forever.

Jaylen Brown stays red-hot

Death, taxes, and Jaylen Brown taking over in the first quarter.

For the 11th time this season, Brown scored in double figures in the opening frame. His 15 points matched the entire Timberwolves starting five. Brown is now shooting a scorching 56.2 percent from the field in first quarters this season.

He slowed down a bit in the second, taking and making only one shot. However, he caught fire again with 10 points in the third and played a key role down the stretch. Brown finished with 35 points to go with 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. He also was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting a career-high 13 shots from the charity stripe.

This marks the first time in Brown's career that he has scored 30 or more points in three consecutive regular-season games. It's the fourth time Tatum and Brown have both scored at least 35 points in a game.

Finals preview no longer farfetched

Remember when we all laughed at our 2023-24 NBA season simulation predicting the Timberwolves would meet the Celtics in the Finals? Not so funny anymore, is it?

Both Celtics-Timberwolves matchups this season have been instant classics that needed overtime periods. Minnesota, now 26-11 on the season, has given Boston a tough matchup in all eight of the quarters plus the two OTs they've played. Even without Gobert, the Wolves' No. 1 ranked defense again kept the Celtics' supporting cast in check. Offensively, they responded to almost every run the Celtics made in Wednesday's game.

Anthony Edwards is a budding superstar who complements three-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert extremely well. Minnesota also has a strong supporting cast that includes Naz Reid, Kyle Anderson (17 points), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (15 points), and Jaden McDaniels (five points).

There's plenty of season left -- more than half, in fact -- but don't be surprised if Celtics-Timberwolves is your 2024 NBA Finals matchup. If it is, it's safe to say based on the two games we've seen that it will be a blast.

Contact Us