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Boston rallies after scary Walker exit in Denver: 10 takeaways from Celtics-Nuggets

Brad Wanamaker caps off productive road trip in loss.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. You know the main story by now. Kemba Walker suffered a scary injury when he ran into Semi Ojeleye late in the first half. Fortunately, it seems as if Walker escaped serious injury. He was released from the hospital to return to Boston with the rest of the Celtics and will be re-evaluated at some point on Saturday.

If you tuned out after that, and no one would blame you, you missed the Celtics make a run at the Nuggets and turn it into a game. Brad Stevens said his players are “warriors”. While it’s not always going to be perfect, but this year’s Boston Celtics are a group you can feel really good about rooting for.

2. As for the game itself, it was another ugly offensive start for the Celtics. Boston shot just 5-of-21 in the first half and scored only 13 points over the first 12 minutes of the game. Against a very good Denver team, that was just too big of a hole to dig themselves out of. Overall, it’s a concern, because the Celtics have been prone to slow starts on the offensive end almost all season.

3. The handful of early offensive plays that were good, were keyed by the defense. Robert Williams III starts the play by tapping the rebound to Walker, then he makes the straight sprint to the rim for the alley-oop finish:

4. This was really poor defense by several Celtics. No one makes an effort to get Grant Williams off Jamal Murray. Williams can’t keep Murray in front of him. Then, as Murray blows by Williams, neither Enes Kanter nor Jayson Tatum slides over to help. This is atypical of the Boston defense thus far this season.

5. This looks like Enes Kanter from the Portland Trail Blazers last year. Drop defense, hands high and active. This is how he can be an effective defender for Boston:

6. Not the best possession from Carsen Edwards. The Celtics love his quick trigger scoring ability, but grabbing a rebound and dribbling for 10 seconds without a pass before taking a contested three-pointer isn’t going to cut it:

7. Jaylen Brown was a big part of Boston getting back in the game. He scored 10 points over the game’s final 4:33, including a couple of big-time three-point shots. This one shows how far Brown has come as a shooter and how he understands relocating to get himself open based off what the driver does:

8. The Celtics held the Nuggets to just 8-of-21 shooting in the fourth quarter. They also forced five Denver turnovers in the final period. That helped get Boston backin the game. Unfortunately, the Celtics couldn’t finish possessions on five different occasions in the final period because the Nuggets grabbed offensive rebounds, or Boston knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebounding action. It’s been an issue all season, and it really cost the Celtics down the stretch in Denver.

9. Robert Williams is very much a real life case of “You’ve gotta take the good with the bad.” Here’s the good, as Williams stands Nikola Jokic straight up and then blocks his shot in the paint:

Here’s the bad, as Williams bizarrely leaves Paul Millsap wide open in the strong side corner for a dagger three-pointer:

Williams has to curb his natural inclination to drop to the paint to try and help on the driver. Brown had picked up Murray and had him under control. This is Williams giving needless help and it left Millsap open for a shot you knew he would make. Williams will learn, but these are the types of plays that usually keep him off the floor during crunch-time.

10. Brad Wanamaker has stepped up in a big way since Gordon Hayward got hurt. But for a second straight game (the first was against the Clippers), Wanamaker was bad late in the game. He had a really poor turnover with Boston down by three with just under two minutes to play. Denver has a really good defense and they forced Wanamaker to have the ball a lot late by taking away other options. He wasn’t up to the task. The good news is, those are minutes that will soon be played by Hayward and Walker. That will make it far more difficult on defenses to force the ball to a weaker option.

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