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C’s gain much-needed confidence with win over T’Wolves originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics finally got off the schneid with a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.

Led by Jayson Tatum‘s 26 points, the shorthanded C’s got the job done without Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, and Tristan Thompson. Evan Fournier chipped in 18 points of his own while Semi Ojeleye, Payton Pritchard, and Luke Kornet combined for 29 in Boston’s starting lineup.

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Here are three quick takeaways from the Celtics’ win, which brings them to 36-35 on the campaign with one game left on the regular-season schedule.

If nothing else, Celtics gained much-needed confidence

This wasn’t a meaningful game for the Celtics, who are locked into the seventh seed and will be partipating in the play-in tournament. But it marked the end of a four-game losing skid, so there certainly were positives to take away from the victory.

To put it bluntly, the C’s had looked lifeless over their last several games. A horrible loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday virtually guaranteed Boston a spot in the play-in tourney while zapping any confidence it had in the process.

While a win over the 22-49 T’Wolves isn’t anything to boast about, it should at least raise the Celtics’ confidence with the play-in tournament looming. Minnesota actually has played pretty solid basketball as of late, winning eight of its last 14 games entering Saturday. The C’s dominated the matchup despite missing a number of key players.

“Obviously, we’ve had some tough losses lately,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg after the game. “So regardless of the outcome today — obviously we’re going to be the seventh seed regardless — just wanted to come out and try to feel good about ourselves, feel good about the way we played, and I think we accomplished that today.”

It wasn’t necessarily a win that will inspire optimism from the fan base, but perhaps it’s a victory that will spark something within the locker room.

Supporting cast stepped up

The Celtics’ role players have been a major disappointment, but they stepped up big time Saturday with Walker, Smart, Brown, Williams, and Thompson absent.

It all started with Pritchard, who came out the gate firing with three 3-pointers in the first half. After that, Tremont Waters stood out for the C’s second unit with 14 points and seven assists in 22 minutes. 

Kornet played a team-high 31 minutes and made the most of them as he tallied 12 points, six rebounds, and four blocks. Ojeleye joined Pritchard and Kornet in the starting lineup and finished with six points and seven boards.

Other contributors on the Celtics bench included Grant Williams (11 pts, 6 reb), Aaron Nesmith (9 pts, 4 reb), Jabari Parker (9 pts, 3 reb), and Romeo Langford (8 pts, 2 ast).

Hornets or Wizards?

The Celtics’ final game of the regular season will come against the New York Knicks on Sunday at 1 p.m ET. There will be another game taking place at the same time that will garner the attention of C’s fans.

The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards are set to face off in a battle for the eighth seed. The winner will earn a trip to TD Garden to take on the Celtics in the play-in tournament.

Boston is 2-1 against both teams this season.