Boston Celtics starting Center Daniel Theis was declared out for the Celtics with a right index finger sprain earlier today, his first absence of the season could not of come at a worse time for Boston. Serbian Nikola Jokić had come to town averaging a mind bending 26.5 points per game, 11.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists a game for the Denver Nuggets. The prospects of limiting the effectiveness of the All-Star big man fell onto the broad shoulders of veteran Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams III off the bench. With Theis out, ring in starter Semi Ojeleye would start for the C’s.
With Paul Millsap, Will Barton III, PJ Dozier, Gary Harris, Greg Whittington all ruled out for Denver, the Nuggets featured an unorthodox lineup to begin starting Rookie Argentinan Facundo Campazzo starting at the point. The Nuggets though jumped out fast behind the good play of Jokic as Boston struggled to ease into things and had just 5 points midway through the quarter.
However the Nuggets weren’t exactly setting the world alight at the other end. Both teams had troubles taking care of the ball as they logged 3 turnovers apiece through one. Boston thankfully found points from Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson to feature in a 7-0 run as Boston took the lead for the first time of the game.
Rookie Aaron Nesmith saw time for Boston early in the game being first up off the Celtics bench and the guard showed excellent play to chase down a certain two-points of R.J. Hampton. Jaylen Brown started to find his groove with time winding down in the quarter posting 7 points and a pair of assists. Jokic was outstanding to start, logging 15 of Denver’s 26 first quarter points. Boston had their best quarter in quite a few games registering a 4 point lead behind a 30-26.
Rookie Payton Pritchard started out the second quarter strong for Boston hitting on a catch and shoot three and then threw a sweet sweet lob to the Timelord Robert Williams who destroyed the ring.
Robert Williams was impacting the game for Boston as it was all one way traffic for the Celtics opening up a 12-point lead. With three-point shooting and floor spacing lacking for Denver via injuries, the Nuggets were stacking the deck around Jokic’s playmaking up high and down low and behind the three-point line. The MVP candidate was hitting on pretty much everything but Boston was playing with a high intensity as the Celtics.
Enter Nikola Jokic who went full Larry Bird on the Celtics on his was to a staggering 29 first half points as Boston probably should of paid more respect to the third string supporting cast which roared back into the game for Denver, it would be 59-54 Boston at the half.
Boston’s patented sleepy third quarters were back again as the team seemed to sleepwalk into start the second half. Semi Ojeleye was good for Boston with some opportunistic scoring before Brown and Tatum hit on consecutive buckets to finally kickstart things as Boston held a four point lead midway through the quarter.
A 24 second clock violation and Bostons fifteenth turnover of the game sounded alarm bells though, as Jokic hit his 35th point as the Nuggets evened the score at 71. A S3mi triple followed by back-to-back Jaylen Brown three-pointers highlighted by a transition heat check triple to put a lid on the Denver run.
Some pretty scoring from Jayson Tatum late in the quarter punctuated by a three-pointer and superb baseline drive and finger roll gave Boston a 86-75.
Boston’s starters and bench were extremely locked in all night and did enough to take down the short-handed Denver Nuggets in their first game of a four game road trip. Despite a tough quarter from Campazzo, the C’s would hold on a much needed win.
Boston’s bench would outscore the Nuggets 30-14, Jaylen Brown was outstanding to lead the Celtics with 27 points (5-10 from three), Jayson Tatum had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in a nice all-around game and Kemba Walker after starting off strong with 10 first quarter points, finished with 17 points. Nikola Jokic would finish with 43 points for Denver.
Boston will next face the Atlanta tomorrow night in the first of two home games against the Hawks.