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Denver Nuggets (28-14) at Boston Celtics (32-9 ) Game #42 1/19/24

The Celtics look for their 4th straight win as they host the Denver Nuggets.

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Celtics host the Denver Nuggets in their second straight home game. This is the first of 2 games between these two teams this season. They will play one more time on March 7 in Denver, where the Nuggets have a very unique mile high home court advantage. They were 1-1 last season with each team winning on their home court. The Celtics are 58-38 overall all time against the Nuggets and they are 38-9 in games played in Boston.

The Celtics remain first in the East. They are 4 games ahead of 2nd place Milwaukee, 5 games ahead of 3rd place Philadelphia, 7 games ahead of 4th place Cleveland and 8 games ahead of 5th place New York and 6th place Miami. They are 20-0 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are 9-3 against Western Conference opponents. They have won their last 3 games.

The Nuggets are 3rd in the West. They are 2 games behind first place Minnesota and tied with 2nd place Oklahoma City, who own the tie breaker. They are 1 game ahead of the 4th place Clippers, 3 games ahead of 5th place New Orleans, and 4 games ahead of 6th place Sacramento. They are 11-10 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are 11-4 against Eastern Conference teams. They are coming off a loss in their last game.

The Celtics are playing in their 2nd straight home game, after alternating home and road games over their previous 5 games. They will start a 3 game road trip on Sunday that will take them through Houston and Dallas back to back and then into Miami. They will then return home for a 7 game home stand where they will host the Clippers, Pelicans, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Hawks, and Washington.

The Nuggets are playing in the 2nd game of a 5 game road trip. They started the trip with a loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia. After this game against the Celtics, they will ply in Washington, Indiana and New York to finish out the road trip. They will then head home to play Philadelphia and then Milwaukee before heading out on the road once again.

Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis missed Wednesday’s game but at this time, there is no one on the Celtics injury report. For the Nuggets, Vlatko Cancar is out for the season after tearing his ACL while playing for the Slovenian National team in the off season. Julian Strawther will miss his 7th game with a right knee contusion. Aaron Gordon is listed as probable with shoulder soreness.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Delano Banton
Oshae Brissett
Sam Hauser
Al Horford
Luke Kornet
Svi Mykhailiuk
Payton Pritchard
Lamar Stevens
Jordan Walsh

2 Way Players
JD Davison
Drew Peterson
Neemias Queta

Injuries/Out
None

Head Coach
Joe Mazzulla

Probable Nuggets Starters

Nuggets Reserves
Christian Braun
Justin Holiday
Reggie Jackson
DeAndre Jordan
Zeke Nnaji
Jalen Pickett
Hunter Tyson
Peyton Watson

2 Way Players
Collin Gillespie
Jay Huff
Braxton Key

Out/Injuries
Vlatko Cancar (knee) out
Julian Strawther (knee) out
Aaron Gordon (shoulder) probable

Head Coach
Michael Malone

Key Matchups

Kristaps Porzingis vs Nikola Jokic
Jokic is has won back to back MVP’s and is in the conversation for MVP every season for a reason. He is averaging 25.5 points, 11.9 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 58.1% from the field and 34.5% from beyond the arc. He is a handful and the Celtics need to try to slow him down by any means necessary.

Jrue Holiday vs Jamal Murray
Murray is averaging 20.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He is shooting 47.7% from the field and 41.0% from beyond the arc. The Celtics will need Jrue Holiday to continue to play well on both ends of the court and they need to defend Murray very well as he can put up points in a hurry.

Honorable Mention
Jaylen Brown vs Michael Porter, Jr
Porter is averaging 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. He is shooting 48.2% from the field and 40.6% from beyond the arc. Brown has been playing very well on both ends of the court and the Celtics are going to need him to continue that in this game to give themselves a chance to win. Porter is a very good 3 point shooter and so they have to stay with him on the perimeter.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is the key to winning every game. The Celtics are 2nd with a defensive rating of 110.4 The Nuggets have a defensive rating of 112.0, which is 20th. The Celtics average 118.7 points per game (2nd), while the Nuggets average 113.5 points per game (12th). The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority, especially against the Nuggets, who are shooting 49.9% from the field as a team (4th) and 37.9% from beyond the arc (9th) as a team.

Rebound - Rebounding is another key to winning every game. The Celtics are 1st in the league, averaging 47.5 rebounds per game. The Nuggets are 13th in the league with 43.8 rebounds per game. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics have to work harder to grab rebounds to limit the Nuggets second chance points and fast breaks. The Celtics can’t allow the Nuggets to outwork them on the boards.

Effort and Energy for 48 Minutes - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to fight for loose balls, defend aggressively, be aggressive in driving to the basket, and just play harder than the Nuggets for the entire game. They have to be the team that wants it more and play like it. They especially have to begin the game with energy and not allow the Nuggets to race out to a big lead and they can’t let up throughout the game. They especially have to come out strong in the 3rd quarter and play hard until the final buzzer. .

Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics need to keep moving the ball to find the open man and make it much harder to guard them. However, they have to be careful with their passes and not turn the ball over as the Nuggets average 16.1 points per game off turnovers. The Celtics also need to be careful when they dribble the ball and not drive into a crowd and turn the ball over.

X-Factors
Home Game - The Celtics are once again home and they should get a boost from the home crowd. This is their second straight home game so they have the benefit of not having to travel also. The Nuggets are playing in the 2nd game of a 5 game road trip and may be getting road weary, although they have had 2 days off since their last game. They also have the distactions of travel, staying in hotels, and playing in front of a hostile crowd. And, they are playing without the help of their mile high atmosphere.

Officiating - I know that I say this every game, but the officiating can always be an x-factor. Every crew calls the game differently whether they call every little ticky tack foul or they let a lot of contact go and let the teams play. The refs seem to be quick to call techs and assorted odd infractions this season. We have already seen games where the officiating made a difference in the outcome, both good and bad. The Celtics have got to adjust to the way the game is being called and not let the calls affect their focus or their play.

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