|Game 34: 2013-14 NBA Season|
|January 7th, 2013|
|Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
|7:00 PM MT|
|Altitude / 950 AM
|Avery Bradley||PG||Ty Lawson
|Jeff Green||SF||Wilson Chandler
|Celtics Blog||Blogs||You're here!|
|Rajon Rondo (knee) is out.||Injuries||Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out, JaVale McGee (leg fracture) is out.|
|The Celtics are 48-31 all-time versus the Nuggets.||Etc...||The most the Nuggets have ever beaten the Celtics by is 29 points, which happened in 1979.
For the second time in one week's time, our Denver Nuggets are playing host to a legendary Eastern Conference franchise that is doing everything it can to lose games and tank its way into the 2014 NBA Draft lottery. Last week the visitor was the Philadelphia 76ers and this Tuesday's opponent is the 76ers' long time rival Boston Celtics.
Like the 76ers, the Celtics made a conscious decision during the 2013 off-season to suck. And suck bad. To pull this off, the Celtics traded away two-fourths of their team that delivered two NBA Finals appearances and one championship between 2008 and 2010: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And seeing the way Garnett, Pierce and their Nets teammates are suffering in Brooklyn, most NBA pundits agree that while the Celtics move was harsh it was the right thing to do.
In addition to re-shaping the roster, the Celtics brought in a rookie head coach in Brad Stevens, the former head coach of Butler University and arguably one of the greatest college coaches of this generation. Stevens, with an impressive 13 wins to date (seriously, have you seen the Celtics roster?!) is trying to break the hex that has been levied on every great-bigtime-college-coach-turned-NBA-coach in the past 30 years. Whether it was John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Tim Floyd, Jerry Tarkanian, Mike Montgomery, Lon Kruger, Leonard Hamilton or PJ Carlesimo, virtually every coach who at first succeeded at a big-time college program has been a disastrous NBA head coach.
But with the tantalizing amount of talent waiting to be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, Celtics' GM Danny Ainge would just as assume Stevens hadn't won any games at all. Because Stevens, like Brett Brown in Philadelphia, will be judged on the improvement of his current players - not on wins and losses.
Unfortunately for Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw, he won't be judged on the improvement of his players alone. Shaw's Nuggets were expected to make the 2014 playoffs ... and anything short of that will be regarded as a disappointment at season's end. But if Shaw's last two games are any indication, the future could once again be as bright as the Nuggets' yellow alternate home jerseys.
Officially 2-0 in the post-Andre Miller Era, the Nuggets put an emphatic ass-whipping on the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday night and served notice that they're still capable of unleashing a tremendous amount of fire power thanks to a deep roster sprinkled with young talent. By getting a home date against a Celtics team reeling from four straight losses, the Nuggets have a golden opportunity to keep the good times rolling in Denver.
Three things to look for in this game ...
1) Move the ball. When the Nuggets last played the Celtics at Boston, they mustered just 11 assists - more than 10 off their average. That probably had a lot to do with Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson leaving the game in the third quarter with a strained hamstring, but still ... 11 assists?!
2) Get off to a good start. One things the Nuggets have been awful at this season is giving their opponents too much hope to kick off games ... often relying on their own bench to come in and get games back in order. Facing a Celtics team that has lost four straight and seven of their last eight, the Nuggets mustn't give the Celts any hope, beginning with the opening tip.
3) More Mozzy! Coming off back-to-back big games, Timofey Mozgov must get ample time to abuse the Celtics' diminutive front line that doesn't feature anyone over 6'9".
Scouting the Celtics ...
-Jeff Green: Just a few years removed from heart surgery that cost him from playing the entire 2011-12 season, Green is turning in a fine 2013-14 by averaging 15.9 ppg.
-Avery Bradley: Not bad for a former 19th overall pick, Bradley is putting up career highs in points and rebounds.
-Gerald Wallace: Taking back Wallace was a necessary evil in the Garnett/Pierce trade, but the Celtics are on the hook to pay Wallace over $10 million per season ... through 2015-16!
-Kelly Olynyk: Big, white, slow and works his ass off. The very definition of a Stiff who would make Doug Moe proud.
Final Thought ...
Nothing like a bad opponent to build some confidence for the home team. Let's hope the Nuggets improve to 3-0 in the post-Andre Miller Era!