Celtics youngsters continue to play with veteran-like confidence

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BOSTON – Jaylen Brown spent Thursday’s “snow day” doing what most young people do on such days – he was playing in the snow.

Jayson Tatum was basking in his first (and probably won’t be his last) Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Award, for December.

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These are fun-loving times for the Boston Celtics (31-10) and their young, dynamic duo which has been one of the keys to Boston sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings which includes them winning each of their last four games.

 “I just think that they just play with a lot of confidence,” said Celtics big man Al Horford. “That’s the biggest thing that impresses me. When a rookie comes in, or you’re on a new team, sometimes you’re trying to feel yourself out, don’t want to step on any toes, you’re not sure about certain things. They’re very assertive, aggressive offensively, knowing when to take shots. And on defense they just keep getting better. So that’s a really good … for our team.”

Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Minnesota.

 

JIMMY BUTLER

Remember all those rumors about Boston’s pursuit of Jimmy Butler? While there was indeed serious interest on Boston’s part to trade for Butler when he played in Chicago, you can chalk that one up to yet another deal that the Celtics benefited from in not doing because it may have taken the Celtics out of the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes which as we can see, has worked out really well for both Boston and Minnesota.

 

TYUS JONES

The former Duke guard has filled in admirably at the point for Jeff Teague (knee). In the four games he has filled in as a starter, Jones has averaged 7.0 points, 4.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and an impressive 3.0 steals per game.

 

FINISHING AT THE RIM

Boston loves to score at the basket, and have done so this season with more options besides Kyrie Irving. As a team, Boston is shooting 59.7 percent in the restricted area which ranks third in the NBA. And tonight, they face one of the NBA’s worst at defending in the restricted area. Minnesota has allowed opponents to shoot 66.4 percent inside the restricted area which ranks 29th in the NBA.

 

MID-RANGE SHOOTING

While a lot of attention has been paid to Boston’s 3-point shooting, they’ve actually been one of the better teams in the league when it comes to knocking down mid-range jumpers. They come into tonight’s game shooting 42.2 percent on mid-range jumpers which ranks fifth in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are allowing teams to shoot a league-high 43.3 percent on mid-range shots.

 

WORLDS APART ON 3-POINT SHOTS

Tonight’s game will be one of extremes when it comes to the 3-point shot. Boston loves it. Minnesota? Not as much. Boston takes 31.2 three-pointers per game which ranks seventh in the NBA. The Timberwolves are taking 22.7 which ranks 28th in the league. That helps explain the huge gap between Boston’s 11.7 made 3’s per game which ranks fifth in the league, and Minnesota which averages 7.9 made 3’s which ranks 29th in the NBA.

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