After back to back wins to close out a seven game homestand, the Boston Celtics looked to carry that momentum into the start of the road trip out West, kicking things off with an afternoon tilt against the Denver Nuggets. The Celtics, who have struggled in several afternoon games this season, came out flat once again in Denver. However the team was able to gather themselves and bounce back from a double digit hole to pull out the 105-87 win in Denver. Jayson Tatum led the way with 28 points, while Jaylen Brown chipped in 20 of his own.
The offense struggled significantly to start the game, scoring only 16 points in the first quarter. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were held scoreless in the frame, and nobody really seemed to be able to find any sort of rhythm, and they went into the second quarter down by 11 as a result. The second quarter was a better showing, as Boston finally started attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line as a result. Boston would score 29 points in the quarter and found themselves trailing by only 6 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the break however, the Nuggets started to control the game as they went on a run in the middle of the third quarter to stretch out their lead to 14. The MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic started to take over after a rather quiet first half, as he was the major problem with both his scoring and playmaking ability. The Celtics found themselves down 79-65, and could have easily rolled over and given up like they have several times this year. Instead, they got back to what made the game close in the first place, and attacked the rim.
The C’s were able to force several turnovers in the final minutes of the third quarter, resulting in easy transition layups for Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown who quickly cut the lead back down to single digits. This momentum and intensity would carry over into the fourth quarter as the Celtics would jump out to a 20-1 run before Denver’s starters, most importantly Jokic, would check back in. It was too little too late for Denver however, as Tatum had just started to heat up as he took over the fourth quarter, scoring from all three levels, including a contested three over Jokic and a nice dunk to cap off a huge quarter for Tatum who finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
In the end, it wound up being a 31-3 run that helped the Celtics take the lead and secure the win today. The Celtics dominated on the defensive side of the ball for the first time in forever, and showed just how good they can be when they are locked in on that side of the court. They were able to contain Nikola Jokic to only 17 points and held the Nuggets to only 8 points in the fourth quarter, which is just absurd considering the offensive talent on that team. Boston was able to hold Denver to 36% shooting from the field and 24% from three.
Boston was able to get off to a nice start on their three game road trip as they play the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday, followed by the injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. It was nice to see the C’s hang around with a playoff caliber team today, so hopefully they can keep up the momentum through the rest of their mini road trip.
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