Rajon Rondo is back, and he's looking to provide a spark for the Boston Celtics.
Facing the Minnesota Timberwolves is usually a good way for them to do that, but this time may be different.
Rondo will try to help the Celtics continue their dominance in this series Wednesday night while the Timberwolves attempt to build off their most lopsided victory of the season.
Boston (9-8) split two games without Rondo, who served a suspension for shoving Brooklyn's Kris Humphries into the stands in retaliation for a hard foul on Kevin Garnett during a 95-83 loss last Wednesday.
The Celtics seemed to be cruising to a second victory without the All-Star guard on Saturday, but they wasted a game-opening 17-0 run and fell 91-88 at Milwaukee.
Rondo, the NBA leader with 12.9 assists per game, is thrilled to be back and wants to help the Celtics, who have dropped four of seven and averaged 89.0 points over their last three.
"It was difficult," Rondo told the team's official website. "I love being around the guys. I love coming into practice and being around the team and playing, but I had to miss that for a couple of days.
"We've got to get this show on the road. We've got to have a great December. I mean, I want to get better. I want to run off about eight or nine games straight."
Trying to start a run like that against the Timberwolves (8-8) seems to be ideal since Boston has won 10 straight meetings while holding them to an average of 91.6 points and 42.1 percent shooting. The Celtics are averaging 106.8 points while winning six in a row at home dating to a loss on March 6, 2005.
Rondo is averaging 16.0 assists and 8.3 points while appearing in three of the last four overall matchups, accumulating 17 assists in a 100-79 romp at Minnesota on March 30.
The Timberwolves shot 34.7 percent from the field - 6 for 24 from beyond the arc - in that meeting, but they enter this one coming off their best shooting performance of the season.
Minnesota connected on 53.2 percent of its field goals and made 13 of 25 from long range to rout Philadelphia 105-88 on Tuesday, its third win in four games. The blowout allowed the Timberwolves to limit Kevin Love to a season-low 25 minutes while he managed six points and 10 rebounds.
Love is averaging 19.4 points and 14.6 rebounds in seven games since missing the first nine recovering from an illness and a broken right hand.
"Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I know that's saying something early on in his career, but he is."
Rivers has seen Love's dominance of the boards up close - he's averaged 14.0 with 13.8 points while appearing in four of the past six matchups.
He should also be familiar with Josh Howard, who is looking to build on his best performance since joining Minnesota last month. The veteran swingman, playing against Boston for the first time since the 2009-10 season, had 16 points and 10 rebounds against the 76ers after averaging 5.9 and 3.0, respectively, over his first seven games.
He averaged 8.7 points with Utah last season, but needed surgery on his troublesome left knee.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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