For the Nuggets second game of a five-game road trip, they'll be playing at a nursing home tonight...errr...I mean the TD Banknorth Garden!
Have I mentioned that the Celtics are old yet? Among their 12 active players, six are well north of 30 years old, making them the oldest team in the NBA. And by recently signing the 37-year-old Michael Finley, the Celtics managed to get even more geriatric by NBA standards.
But make no mistake about it; these aging, wounded veterans can still play at the highest level. Just ask the Dallas Mavericks who got their butts kicked by the Celtics at Dallas on Saturday night, even though the Celtics had played the night before at Houston where they notched another road win on their belt.
Most curiously, the Celtics are better on the road than they are at home. While they've won impressively at Orlando, Cleveland, Los Angeles (sans Kobe Bryant, it should be mentioned), Portland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston this season, they've also lost at home to New Jersey (not a typo), Chicago, Philadelphia and almost dropped a home game to Washington earlier this month.
When last playing our Nuggets, the Celtics road mojo wasn't working. On a Sunday ABC game, the Nuggets handled the road weary Celtics (playing their fourth road game in six days) 114-105 at Pepsi Center on February 21st. In that game, the Nuggets took a 37-19 first quarter lead, gave away nine points in the second quarter and then just traded baskets for the entire second half en route to victory. It was a weird game in that the Celtics actually didn't play that poorly. They outshot the Nuggets 53% to 51% from the field. Outrebounded the Nuggets 37 to 24. And the Celtics had more assists, steals and blocks than the Nuggets and tied in turnovers, too.
Where that February 21st game was won by Denver and lost by Boston was at the free throw line, where the Nuggets had 40 attempts to the Celtics 24. Both teams shot horribly from the line that day, with the Nuggets making just 25 of their 40 free shots while the Celtics missed almost half of theirs (13 for 24). So like I said, it was a weird game.
When the Nuggets arrive at the NBA's nursing home tonight, the roles will be a bit reversed. The Celtics will have been rested at home for two days, while the Nuggets will be the road weary opponents. But we've seen this movie before. Five games into the Chauncey Billups (second) Era last season, the Nuggets found themselves playing at Boston - then the NBA defending champions - on the second of a back-to-back after losing in Cleveland on a late Thursday night TNT game...and they won. That was the pinnacle game where the Nuggets served notice to the entire NBA that they meant business.
Tonight, the Nuggets have the opportunity to show the NBA that they mean business again, in spite of those pesky losses to crappy teams that don't seem to go away.
SCOUTING THE CELTICS...
-Rasheed Wallace: Remember when we were hotly debating whether or not the Nuggets should acquire Wallace during the offseason and I said he's horrible outside shooter, doesn't shoot enough from the inside and will have to be overpaid? I forgot to include that he'll be overweight, which he has been all season long. I suspect the Celtics will be cringing when they owe 'Sheed almost $7 million two seasons from now.
-Shelden Williams: While it's not Williams fault that he was drafted ahead of Brandon Roy, Randy Foye and Rudy Gay, it only makes Williams more of a Stiff. Williams will soon be joining the long list of Duke players that have been NBA busts and if it weren't for Nikoloz Tskitishvili handily owning the crown, Williams would be in the conversation for worst fifth overall pick of all time.
-Brian Scalabrine: He's pasty white, pudgy, has red hair, looks like an elf and plays for the Celtics. Need I explain more?
-Kevin Garnett: Bill Simmons and his Celtics fans cronies have spent all season writing KG's obituary and while KG will certainly never be the player he once was, I'd take him on my team any day of the week. KG remains one of the Eastern Conference's premier power forwards and is capable of a double-double (combined with his requisite defensive intensity) on any given night.
-Rajon Rondo: Rondo's numbers have been all over the map lately, but he's still one of the few point guards in the league who can fill up an entire box score by himself.
-Ray Allen: Seemingly lost in the conversation these days, at almost 35 years old Allen is having a quietly good season. He's shooting 47.3% from the field (third highest percentage of his career) and averaging a respectable 16.2 ppg. And in his last seven games, Ray Ray has made over half his three-point shot attempts five times.
Photo courtesy of AP: Winslow Townson