No Show in Minnesota

Kevin Garnett played 12 seasons and scored more than 19,000 points as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, but in his first return to the arena he used to electrify, he probably won't play at all.

The Boston Celtics visit the Timberwolves on Friday for the first time since a blockbuster trade sent Garnett to Boston last summer, but they're expected to be without their power forward for a sixth straight game as he recovers from an abdominal strain.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 189 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Garnett, who holds more than a dozen Minnesota franchise records and scored nearly 12,000 more points with the Timberwolves than any other player, was dealt to Boston for five players and two first-round draft picks on July 31.

The trade completed Boston's "Big Three," along with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and helped to revamp one of the league's worst teams - which finished 24-58 last season - into the NBA's best.

Garnett has averaged 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds this season, but the Celtics (37-9) have gone 3-2 without him after he strained an abdominal muscle in an 87-86 win over the Timberwolves in Boston on Jan. 25.

He returned to make a game-sealing steal in the final seconds against his former team, but hasn't played since. The Celtics, who are three games ahead of Detroit for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, have said they plan on being extra-cautious with Garnett.

"The doctors want to make sure I'm smart and I'm not doing anything heroic, as they put it," Garnett said. "They want to make sure that I'm healthy. We have another half of a season of basketball to play, and that's the priority here."

He planned to travel to the Target Center with his team, but the injury will likely spoil what would have otherwise been an emotional homecoming, as Garnett is not expected to sit on the bench.

"It's hard for me to watch my guys out there playing without me," Garnett said Wednesday before Boston's 111-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. "I'll be honest, I can't really watch a lot of games."

He's missed the continuation of Boston's mid-season mini-swoon. After their scorching 29-3 start, the Celtics are 8-6 in the last 14 games, and also have lost three of their last five road games after starting 14-2 on the road.

But Boston has not missed Garnett much at the offensive end lately, scoring more than 110 points in three of the last four games. Point guard Rajon Rondo has averaged 20.3 points in that span, and he had a career-high 24 points with eight assists on Wednesday despite being bloodied by a flagrant foul from the Clippers' Sam Cassell.

Pierce was struggling with the flu and the Celtics had lost 114-113 at Cleveland the previous night, but they still shot 53.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Clippers 40-34.

Without Garnett, Boston is averaging 106.0 points, but also allowing 97.4 per game - well above its NBA-best season average of 89.0 points allowed.

Against the Timberwolves (10-37), the Celtics will also be facing many of their former players for the second time. Boston sent Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff to Minnesota in the Garnett deal. Wolves reserve forward Antoine Walker is also a former Celtic.

The Wolves have escaped the ignominy of being the NBA's worst team by winning five of seven before their 92-86 loss to Houston on Monday.

Jefferson had 33 points and 16 rebounds while Telfair added 12 assists, but the Timberwolves' late comeback attempt fell short.

"We got blown out by 30 last time against Houston (113-82 on Jan. 11), without (Tracy McGrady)," Jefferson said. "We were playing like garbage then. We're playing well now. We lost tonight, but we don't have anything to hang our heads about."

Minnesota had also won four straight home games before losing to the Rockets.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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