Greetings from the Garden where we are live for today’s game between the Celtics  and the Timberwolves , aka the former Celtics. The question for today: Is there any force on this mortal coil that could keep Kevin Garnett  from making his appointed rounds against hid old team? Apparently there is. It’s called the flu and it has knocked KG out for today and possibly into next week.
Big Baby Davis gets the start in his place and he has been playing the best ball of the season. He’ll have his hands full trying to help stop Al Jefferson , et al. We’re about ready to begin and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Kevin McHale  just got a standing ovation during pregame warm-ups when his image filled the JumboTron.
KG may not be here, but Jess and I are back in force. Let’s have at it…
FIRST QUARTER WRAP: Great quarter by Kendrick Perkins  who went for nine points and five rebounds. The Celtics are owning the boards, 13-5, even without Kevin Garnett in the lineup. Minnesota has cooled off after a fast start. It will be interesting watch how this game is called the next three quarters. The refs let a lot of contact go without calls in the first 12 minutes.
First Quarter Observations
— Of course Kendrick Perkins will have Big Al most of the day, but Baby will have to keep an eye out to help. That’s where a player like Garnett would have been valuable today.
— That’s the second time I’ve seen Rondo break out the overhead diagonal bounce pass on the fast break. Those things aren’t accidents folks. It may look funky sometimes but there’s not much that Rondo does that he hasn’t thought through a few times.
— If Minny is going to insist on putting Craig Smith  on Perk, that’s a matchup the Celtics should be able to exploit. Perk’s offensive game has been coming along nicely the last year or so. If he gets just a little more fluid, he has the touch, and you know he has the bulk, to be a very productive low-post option.
— If you could have one guy back from the KG trade–besides Al Jefferson–whom would it be? Got to be Ryan Gomes , right? A versatile 6-8 or so forward with range would be ideal on this team. Of course, it’s still a trade you make every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but I think the rest of the league is finally acknowledging that it wasn’t the straight-up steal people thought it was at the time.
— Four turnovers already for the Celtics. If they keep a lid on that they can go for 110 again. Great start by Paul Pierce  who is 4-for-4 and nine points. This is a game for Pierce to really pick up his scoring. As has been noted several times, I love the way he’s playing this year. He’s in the flow, so to speak. Time for him to ride the wave this afternoon.
On the other side, you can see what not having KG does to the defense. The T-Wolves are getting good looks, and they’re making them.
— Great move by Ray Allen . He pump-faked the 3 and went hard to the basket. He’s doing that so much more than he did last year when he was basically a catch-and-shoot player. And yes, he got robbed for the All-Star team. Rondo too.
— Minnesota has zero rebounds. Sorry, now they have one.
— Kevin Love  and Mike Miller  are in for Minny. Miller is the subject of much trade rumor mongering and he would definitely help a contender. The guy has very quietly put together a solid career. Love, meanwhile has also put together a decent, if not overwhelming, rookie campaign. Safe to say he’s a better rebounder than people thought he would be. Once he extends his range he should be a solid NBA player for the next decade.