Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview (3/15/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

After an embarrassing loss to Houston, the Boston Celtics (47-22) limp into a road matchup versus the Minnesota Timberwolves (35-34). Robert Williams and Payton Pritchard are out for Boston, while Minnesota has a slew of questionable designations: Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid, Jaylen Nowell, and Austin Rivers. Karl-Anthony Towns also remains out; his last appearance was November 28th.

Can Boston bounce back? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Odds

With the spread at -4.5, the Celtics are a solid favorite to prevail, and their -190 moneyline may be a popular addition to parlays. For Minnesota’s +170 moneyline to be a profitable play, they must win here at least 38% of the time.

As for matchup trends, the Celtics are 15-5-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings versus the Timberwolves. They are also 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings at Target Center. Plus, the over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.

Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Prediction

I’m taking the Celtics to cover -4.5 and their moneyline.

With Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, and Jaden McDaniels leading the scoring charge, Minnesota’s offense relies heavily on transition attempts and shots around the basket. Unfortunately, they don’t have the team playmaking to convert their advantages into quality perimeter looks should the opposing rim protectors deter the shot attempts. As a result, the Timberwolves rank 30th in Open 3 Rate and 22nd in catch and shoot three frequency (per ShotQuality).

Boston ranks 11th defending finishes at the rim, 7th defending isolation and owns the 5th best transition defense in terms of opponent shot quality allowed (per ShotQuality). Although Robert Williams is out, Horford remains a suitable interior defender for the Celtics. In addition, Boston’s numerous lengthy wings and stifling guards will also deter Minnesota from penetrating the paint.

On the other end, Boston possesses the tools to crack this sturdy Minnesota defense. The Celtics are 5th in 3PT%, and 47.6% of their FGA are 3PA – the 3rd highest rate. They also achieve the 2nd highest catch and shoot three frequency, and they are 6th in shot quality there too.

Enter the Timberwolves, who rank 17th in opponent Open 3 Rate and roster a perimeter liability in Rudy Gobert. Look for the Celtics to station Horford (4.9 3PA, 45.3 3PT%) on the three-point line and force Gobert to choose: either defend Horford or allow clean driving lanes against a Boston team that has the 4th highest rate of drives ending in points.

Finally, Minnesota is 27th in opponent offensive rebound rate, 28th in opponent free throw attempt rate, and 26th in turnover percentage. These three categories lead to large expected points per possession, so Boston can nab easy points here.

Overall, I expect the Celtics to break out of their mini slump and win convincingly. Their three-point shooting and ability to counter Minnesota’s offensive strengths likely cause a repeat of the last matchup: a 121-109 Celtics win. It’s worth noting that per ShotQuality, the expected score of that game was a 133-104 Celtics win based on the quality of shots taken.

Betting Trends

  • Celtics are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games
  • Over is 9-4 in Celtics last 13 overall
  • Under is 8-2-1 in Timberwolves last 11 home games
  • Celtics are 15-5-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings
  • Celtics are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Minnesota
  • Over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Anthony Edwards vs. Marcus Smart & Derrick White

Edwards is the offensive engine that dominates shot creation, and Boston will attempt to slow him down with reigning DPOY Marcus Smart and elite rim protector Derrick White. It’s paramount for the Timberwolves that Edwards scores efficiently and doesn’t turn the ball over. If this duo wins the battle, then Boston should cruise to a cover.

Timberwolves Bench

Led by Malcolm Brogdon (14.7 PPG, 3.6 APG), the Celtics second unit (4th bench Net Rating) can ruthlessly overwhelm opponents. Grant Williams gives them a 3&D wing, Muscala and Hauser space the court, and Griffin provides a dash of interior scoring and connective passing. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s bench is 17th in Net Rating, and the unit is extremely shaky defensively. If the Timberwolves are going to cover, then they need their bench to hold their own.

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford

Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Anthony Edwards
SF: Jaden McDaniels
PF: Kyle Anderson
C: Rudy Gobert

Key Injuries

Boston Celtics Injuries: Robert Williams (O), Payton Pritchard (P), Danilo Gallinari (D)

Minnesota Timberwolves Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (O), Rudy Gobert (Q), Naz Reid (Q), Jaylen Nowell (Q), Austin Rivers (Q)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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