Slowing the tempo: Denver Nuggets @ Boston Celtics preview

Denver Nuggets logo

No one needs an introduction to the exciting, fast-paced basketball the Denver Nuggets employ under head coach George Karl. Will the surging Celtics be able to take this young energetic team down at home? A slight advantage goes to the Celtics however, with the Nuggets coming into Boston off a back-to-back win at Cleveland. Will the Celtics look rusty after a weekend of rest? One can only hope not.

Fact: The Nuggets are on a 9 game win streak, with this game looking to be the 10th possible win on Game 2 of a four game road trip.

Game time: 11 Feb 2013, 1000hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL.

2. Jared Sullinger is out for the season after his back operation.

3. Wilson Chandler is questionable for the game with a groin injury.

Defense

Transition offense. Points in the paint. Aggression. Getting buckets, one thing the Nuggets do very well. They are third in the league on offense (104.8 PPG), and will not hesitate to overwhelm the opponent with their run and gun basketball. Will we be able to defend the Nuggets well enough to slow them down?

We have Bradley and Lee on perimeter defense, which might end up being a tough night if the Nuggets employ their usual starting lineup with Iguodala at the 2 and Lawson at the 1.  Avery Bradley will definitely be ready to make life difficult for the athletic and high scoring Lawson; this is one matchup we cannot afford to lose. With Lawson’s aggressive offense stifled, the team will likely revert to isolation offense from Iguodala or Gallinari. Lee will be facing a very big mismatch on height and size with Iguodala, so look for Doc to be employing a wrinkle on the defense to help Lee out, either in the form of zone or help defense at the ready.

Do not forget about Professor Andre Miller as well; while a grizzled veteran at 36 years old, he can see the court as well as any other point guard out there, and will still set his teammates up with consummate ease. Guard Corey Brewer is ready to make an impact this season, do not forget about him as he will look to make clutch contributions at the right time, be it hustling for a loose ball or getting a big basket.

The front court is another tough nugget to choke on. Nuggets center Koufos, while not a flashy All-Star by any stretch of imagination is still a quality big man who knows his role and can finish the buckets when needed; 8.0 PPG and 6.6 RPG is still nothing to scoff at. In addition, you have the Manimal himself – Faried, the young and energetic forward who simply does his job by finding loose balls (3.5 offensive boards per game) and finishing them with aggression. Will Bass be able to keep his feet around Faried? I’d give the advantage to Faried at the 4 spot, no questions asked.

Also, do not forget about promising big man Javale McGee. While he is constantly the butt of many an internet meme and NBA comedy blooper clip, McGee is long, athletic and can contribute double-digit scoring on any given night. Will the reserve big rotation of Wilcox/Collins be able to handle the best McGee can throw at them? With Wilson Chandler out, coach Karl will be activating a reserve big  to shore the big man rotation up – likely Mozgov or Randolph.

Tough matchups all round, no easy fish. Contain the second chance points, and let’s get our offense rolling.

Offense

Expect Iguodala to be matched up against Pierce on defense. Iguodala is an elite one-on-one defender, so don’t expect Pierce to get any easy points off him. I trust the captain to find a way to get what he wants however, and it is absolutely critical that he get his usual load while balancing it with ball distribution. Another tough night for the Truth once more.

Jeff Green needs to continue the recent offensive rampage he has been on. The Nuggets are not a fantastic defensive team with the exception of Iguodala, and should he be matched up against Brewer or Gallinari (none of whom are huge defensive stoppers), expect him to have the opportunity to score.

I would not call this a huge advantage in the post, but with Koufos defending Garnett, I would expect the Big Ticket to be taking and making his usual load of jump shots. A well-rested KG (no thanks to the recent blizzard) should have his shots falling without fear of fatigue.

While the Nuggets have some very solid interior defenders, we have to take the ball in regardless. No amount of excessive jump shooting will help us in this game, and we cannot afford to have Denver get the rebound and push the game up in transition. Play it slow, make the shot count and let’s grind it out. No sloppy TOs, that’s how we want to lose the game, not win. The Nuggets will absolutely blitz us if they even get a whiff of fast break points.

Moral of the story, please get inside the paint and net us some points or FTs – I’m not picky. Here’s looking at you guys: Lee, Green and Pierce. Hell, even Barbosa.


Here comes another big test on the Celtics’ play right now – if we can beat Denver, things definitely look much better for the patchwork, Rondo/Sully-less Celtics. Let us get the W!

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