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Sunday, March 27, 2011
Game 72: Celtics vs. T-Wolves

By Greg Payne

(50-21, 21-13 away)     -- vs. --     (17-56, 12-24 home)
at Target Center, 7 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
In the last few days, the slumping Boston Celtics have bowed out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Another loss could drop them to third place for the first time since the first week of November.

Trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak in nearly a year, the Celtics hope to continue their dominance over a Minnesota Timberwolves team that could have Kevin Love back Sunday night at the Target Center.

Boston (50-21) was tied with Chicago atop the East on Monday but has since lost back-to-back home games to fall behind the Bulls. The Celtics are now just one-half game ahead of third-place Miami, and they would fall from the No. 2 spot Sunday if they lose and the Heat beat Houston. Boston hasn't been in third place since it was 3-1 on Nov. 2.

The Celtics would seemingly have a good chance of remaining in second, having won eight straight over Minnesota (17-56) since a 109-107 loss Feb. 11, 2007 -- back when Kevin Garnett was still on the Timberwolves -- but they've had many close calls.

Four of the last seven meetings have been decided by three points or less, and the Celtics needed to score 19 of the game's final 27 points to beat Minnesota at home 96-93 on Jan. 3.

Love had 24 rebounds in that game but was held to 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Minnesota is 1-18 when Love scores 15 or less, including losses the last two games as he sat out with a strained groin, but the league's rebounding leader could return Sunday.

"That's up to our medical staff to determine," coach Kurt Rambis said. "That's up to him to determine, too."

Read the full preview HERE.