Back to the grind: Boston Celtics @ Denver Nuggets preview

Denver Nuggets logo

Was everyone bored about the lack of C’s games over the weekend? We are officially back in business, and with a 10-day signing on swingman Terrence Williams at that. I’m sure Danny will be working on another bomb in the meantime, but here’s what KG had to say during the All-Star weekend:

“In the back of my mind you have Denver Tuesday, Lakers Wednesday,” Garnett stated after the All-Star game. “I was just thinking about the schedule and having to face these teams second half.”

The Celtics versus Lakers rivalry will continue on Wednesday but Garnett will not allow himself to overlook Tuesday’s game in Denver. The C’s and Nuggets went to triple overtime just eight days ago, so Boston knows it will have its hands full coming out of the break.

“Mentally you have to be ready for Denver,” said Garnett. “Their pace is incredible, especially when they’re at home. They’re 22-3 at home – a great home record.”

– via Celtics.com, West Downs East in KG’s 15th All-Star Game

The Big Ticket is all tuned up and ready to go for Denver, but will this be enough?

Fact: The Nuggets were on a 3-game losing skid before the All-Star break; that streak incidentally began with the 3OT loss to Boston in the last meet. They are however 22-3 at home so far, so the positives can only go that far.

Game time: 20 Feb 2013, 1300hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

  1. Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL on his right knee.
  2. Jared Sullinger is out for the season after his back operation.
  3. Leandro Barbosa is out for the season with a torn ACL on his left knee.
  4. Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala went through a full practice session and are expected to play.
  5. New signing Terrence Williams is unlikely to join the team in this game, further update to come.

Defense

What do you expect to see this game after a long All-Star break? I’m guessing some accumulated rust is in order and some shaky defense to happen in the first half. Add the fact that both Gallinari and Iguodala are returning to the lineup, a (likely) enthusiastic home crowd at Denver, and I’m not expecting an easy time on D at all.

First up, guards.

  • Avery against Lawson: Ty Lawson is just too good on offense with his drives, and unfortunately he managed to keep Avery off-balance on defense. Will we see a reversal of fortunes this time? I’m not hoping for a miracle here, but it would really be good if Bradley manages to contain the high scoring guard.
  • JET against Miller: The guy is just too wily on finding scoring opportunities and too good in the low post. Terry has never been known as a defensive stopper, but nonetheless did a credible job against Miller, who had 7 of 18 shots in the last matchup. I would like to see another low-efficiency Miller game like this if we are to have any chances.
  • Lee against Gallo: We’ve seen this before. While Gallo has a huge advantage on the physical end, his relative reliance on either the set three or a quick drive is limiting his offensive potential. Courtney still holds a good shot at reining Gallinari in with defensive energy and quick movement.

Next, the front court.

  • The biggest difference maker on second chance points is likely to be Kenneth Faried. 14 points on 5 of 10 field goals, 12 rebounds (4 offensive), the dude is one hell of a game changer who just makes things happen with his energy. His one flaw: 62% free throw accuracy this season. I’m not advocating hack-a-Manimal just yet, but if I had to pick between a dunk that energises the home crowd and two stationary shots at the line, you bet I’d go for the foul. The problem of course, is more about fouling him before he dunks all over everyone.
  • Javale McGee anyone? He looked like a kid out at an unmanned candy store the last game, offensive rebounds were his for the taking. And taking. And taking. It’s not easy keeping him out of a good rebounding spot, but we can’t afford to give him (and the rest of the Nuggets) these freebies. Box out. Hard.

Let’s talk about rebounding again, because the Nuggets had 15 offensive rebounds the last game. Granted the game went into triple overtime, this is still a huge stat. I’m hoping for Pierce to have yet another otherworldly rebounding night, something like 12-15 defensive boards. KG and Pierce accounted for 32 of the team’s 51 total rebounds last game, which is unlikely to happen a second time. In case no one’s noticed, KG isn’t averaging double-digit figures on rebounding this season (6.6 RPG). The rest of the team has to pick up the slack. The Nuggets shot really badly in Boston last time, but we cannot afford to hope for it to happen again while we get out-rebounded.

Offense

Less jumpshots, period. Taking lazy shots is not a good way to shake rust off. I don’t mind an open shot, but please – no jump shots every possession.

Getting the Nuggets into foul trouble is a good way to stall their offense, and I’m hoping for Green to lead the charge in this area. He’s proving to be one of the guys other than Pierce who can do this on a nightly basis. Take it to the hole and make them pay Uncle Jeff! I wouldn’t mind a poster or two along the way either.

Another difference maker off the bench would be the JET, who looks to be finally finding his offensive flow on the court. While I’m not stoked by his three point shot efficiency, his mid-range shooting has been impeccable – expect to see more of this tomorrow along with assorted layups.

Will we see the Truth with another double-double, or dare I hope – another triple-double? More of what the doc ordered, just the captain giving the game what it needs. The stats aren’t a real drama, the key lies in the team moving the ball well on offense after all.


How about starting the final run of the season out with a W? Given the excellent home performance of the Nuggets after an All-Star lull, I would expect this to be a really tough game. Either grind a win, or not worry too much about the win and conserve our energy for the Lakers the day after.

Go C’s!

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