Jaylen Brown scored 27, Jayson Tatum added 21, and Kemba Walker continued to play well with 17 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Denver Nuggets 112-99 on Tuesday night in Boston to snap a two-game losing streak. Coming off losses to the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, the Celtics knew it would take a much better effort than they showed in either of those games to beat the Nuggets, and they were able to do it.
Even in a loss, Denver’s MVP candidate, center Nikola Jokic, was the best player on the floor. He scored 43 points on a ridiculous 16-23 shooting. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the game, just check out some of these highlights. The game just looks so easy for him, as he continued his outstanding season that may well be on its way to claiming the MVP award.
For Boston, Jaylen Brown continued to make his case that he isn’t Boston’s second option- that he’s just as much a star as Jayson Tatum. And based on his stats this season, he’s doing a pretty good job of proving it. He continues to lead the team in scoring at more than 26 points per night, which he continued by pouring in 27 in this win, 16 of which came in the second half as Boston pulled away. He’s blossoming into a true stud before our eyes and putting on a show every night, and it’s so much fun to watch.
Kemba Walker is another story to watch coming out of this game. Quietly, he’s scored 21 points per game over his last three contests. After struggling to get his feet underneath him and find his shot to begin the season after missing time recovering from his knee injury, it looks like he’s returning to the Kemba Walker that we all know. This Celtics team is a little thin behind Brown and Tatum, so Kemba returning to full form is critical to their chances of making a deep playoff run.
This was also Aaron Nesmith’s best game as a pro. I know I’ve spent more time talking about him in these game recaps than he’s deserved for most of the season, but he more than justifies mention for his efforts in this game. His lethal 3-point shooting is coming around- he knocked down a corner three, which were a nightmare for him early in the year- and he’s giving it his all every second he’s on the court. Look at this chasedown block (which may or may not have been a foul) in the first quarter.
His hustle directly leads to a 3-pointer for Jaylen Brown, which is a five-point swing. In the early stages of the game, that’s a big play. To get minutes from Brad Stevens, you have to play hard when you’re on the court and take the challenge on the defensive end, and Nesmith seems to have fully embraced that. It seems like he’s jumped Jeff Teague in the rotation too, which shouldn’t be too surprising. At this point, we know what Teague is- a veteran ballhandler that gets too focused on his own shot and is exposable on the defensive end. In Nesmith, the Celtics have a potential sniper that would really open up the court for Tatum and Brown who seems to be fully invested on the defensive end. It’s safe to say most Celtics fans would take the latter of the two options.
This game is a gigantic step in the right direction for Boston. Their effort was severely lacking for the past week, and the two previous games made it obvious. While this team is talented, they still need to work hard to be able to win their games, and it seemed like they forgot that for a stretch. They played with the right effort tonight, and the result was a win over a solid team with one of the best players in the league.
Next up for Boston is a matchup with Trae Young and the high-flying Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. Kemba Walker most likely won’t play in the second half of this back-to-back, so the C’s will once again be looking for bench contributions to make up for his absence.
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