It is kind of strange playing a team that has 6 former Celtics on it. When we played them in the preseason, Ricky Davis was their top scorer and Mark Blount started at Center. Since then, Davis and Blount are gone, Employee #8 is a Timberwolf and Big Al and Ryan Gomes have done some growing and are playing great. Gerald Green has disappeared into the woodwork, Sebastian Telfair is looking like a decent point guard, Theo Ratliff is injured again, and the Wolves have as many wins as the Celtics have losses.
I really hated to see Big Al go because I could see him developing into a dominant offensive player for many, many years. Big Al is averaging 20.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 assists and seems to be getting better with each game. KG is averaging 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks. Their stats are comparable. KG is averaging slightly fewer points and rebounds and more assists because he has 2 all star teammates to share the load. But, the leadership, intangibles, and intensity that KG brings to the team are irreplaceable. But the biggest difference between KG and Big Al is on the defensive end. KG's defensive intensity makes the Celtics defense work. One day, Big Al may be that type of leader, but it will take time. Big Al is playing center for the Wolves and will match up against Perk. These guys are best of friends, but on the court, they will go at each other with a passion because that is the kind of players they are.
Ryan Gomes has been playing very well. He had a career high 35 points with 11 rebounds in the win over Golden State this past week. He is averaging 11.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He was another player I hated to see go. I can see Gomes developing into a Posey type player. The Wolves didn't pick up his option for next year and he will be a free agent. He very well may consider coming back to the Celtics since he is a local product. Only time will tell. He will be matched up against KG in the game against the Celtics as he is the Wolves starting power forward. He gives up 4 inches in height and the Celtics will probably look to exploit this matchup.
Gerald Green has all but disappeared in Minnesota. He continues to be inconsistent and has played sparingly with 20 DNP's already. He is averaging 4.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 11.8 minutes per game. He has played 30+ minutes in 2 games this season. He played 30 minutes in a loss to Golden State and had 18 points on 6-13 shooting with 8 rebounds and 2 assists. He played 32 minutes in a loss to the Hornets and shot 4-13 for 11 points to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 turnovers. He continues to show flashes of the talent that makes him so intriguing but is still very inconsistent. He will be defending his slam dunk title over All Star Weekend and I will be pulling for him.
Sebastian Telfair has been playing very well for the Wolves. He is their starting point guard and is averaging 9.6 points, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He seems to finally be getting it.
Theo Ratliff has played in 6 games for the Wolves which is 4 more than he played for the Celtics. He was basically an expiring contract but they were also hoping to get something from him on the court this season. He averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks before going down with a knee injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and has started running and light workouts and hopes to return by February 13.
The final Celtic on the Wolves roster is Antoine Walker. Walker is a very polarizing figure as some Celtics fans love him and would love to have him back in Boston for a third run, whilc others hate him and couldn't wait to get rid of him while he was here. Antoine once described himself as a volume scorer and still loves to hoist 3's. His career has gone downhill from starting for the Celtics team that went to the conference finals to coming off the bench for the Timberwolves. He does have a ring, though, that he loves to remind Pierce about. But after this season, hopefully Pierce will have a ring of his own. Walker is averaging 9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 20 minutes per game off the bench. He is shooting 38% from the field, 35% from beyond the arc, and 51% from the field.
The Wolves have won 2 games in a row over quality teams. They beat the 25-18 Warriors on the road behind 35 points and 11 rebounds from Ryan Gomes and then beat the 30-13 Suns at home behind 39 points and 15 rebounds from Al Jefferson. I can see Big Al and Ryan being much more classy about playing the Celtics than Ricky and Blount were, but you know that they are going to play very hard and will want the win very badly. The Celtics better not take them for granted, or the Celtics may have a 2 game skid, while the Wolves go on a 3 game win streak.