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Game thread: Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics

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After an up and down 4-4 home stand, the Denver Nuggets begin a three game road trip in Boston against the Celtics.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has established himself as a coaching savant after taking the job before the 2013 season. He has a team with no clear alpha dog playing hard, scrappy defense every night, and they made the playoffs last season when they were projected to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With the second best defensive rating in the league at 98.6, the Celtics pose a tough challenge for a Nuggets team that at times looks completely lost on the offensive end. Additionally, much like the Hawks team that just eviscerated Denver in their final game of the home stand, the Celtics force a ton of turnovers. In fact, they are forcing the most turnovers per game in the league, just above the aforementioned Hawks.

To be fair, there are also times where Denver executes offensively, moving both ball and man in almost Spursian elegance. As has been mentioned by Zach Lowe, line ups featuring Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, and Danilo Gallinari have scored at a rate of over 115 points per 100 possessions. Where things have been breaking down of late is when Michael Malone brings in the bench brigade. Part of it has been due to injuries impacting who is available to play, but part is due to a regression for super sub Will Barton. His shooting has fallen off a cliff in January, where he's making only 35% of his field goal attempts and an even more paltry 29.8% of his threes. While I expect the starters to again be able to hold their own (especially if they can control their turnovers), for the Nuggets to have a shot of winning on the road tonight, the bench must bring more than they have for much of this month.