PHILADELPHIA - Wednesday night's game in Boston will be the first time the Timberwolves have played the Celtics since late March, the night Kevin Garnett came home and turned back the clock.
It was a game that's hard to forget. Wolves forward Kevin Love had spent the month filling up scorebooks. In 17 games that March, Love shot nearly 45 percent and averaged 30.7 points and 13.9 rebounds. In the days preceding the March 30 game against Boston at Target Center, there was at least some talk of which Kevin was -- or would end up being -- the best power forward in team history.
Garnett used that perceived slight for motivation in Boston's one-sided 107-79 victory. He scored 24 points with 10 rebounds while helping hold Love to 22 points on 5-for-18 shooting. The Celtics moved into first place in the Atlantic Division that night.
After the game, Garnett offered some semi-snarky comments: "If y'all know anything about me, you know I was more than ready and prepared tonight." And this: "Kevin Love is really good, very solid, ... very offensive-minded. He knows we've been watching him, keeping track of all his accolades. You know, I sort of reverted back to 2004."
Fast forward to Wednesday. Truth be told, this is no red-hot rivalry, at least not for Love, who grew up a big Garnett fan. "People who watched KG and covered him know what a great player he is," Love said.
"I don't know what it was last year. It was something added onto that game. He wanted to perform well, and so did Boston, getting into playoff mode," Love continued. "I'm the type of person, I'll never bring that kind of stuff up. But everybody wanted to pit Kevin on Kevin. ... He's a once-in-a-lifetime generation type player who has been there and done that. I'm still making my mark in this league, still 24 years old, relatively young. I'd like to continue to keep following in his footsteps."
Garnett's Celtics are 9-8 through 17 games. KG is averaging 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds while playing just under 29 minutes a night. He has played a lot of center this year, but figures to match up with Love on the defensive end for much of Wednesday's game.
Love, since recovering from his broken hand, was averaging 21.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in six games heading into Tuesday's game against the 76ers.
It has been a difficult few days since the stomach flu nearly knocked him out of Friday's victory over Milwaukee. Monday was the first time he could keep food down and Tuesday was the first time he had an appetite. He lost seven pounds.
"It was brutal," said Love, who had just six points on 2-for-10 shooting Tuesday night but did manage 10 rebounds.Barea still hurting
J.J. Barea said his left mid-foot sprain is still not 100 percent, and that it affects him every time he pushes off to make a move.
"Hopefully I'll get there in the next couple weeks. I think it's improving, maybe a little bit at a time, but it's slow. I'm waking up every day feeling a little better," said Barea, who had 11 points and 10 assists Tuesday.