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Preview: Nuggets aim to continue winning ways with home sortie versus Celtics

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The Nuggets welcome Kemba Walker and his teammates to the Mile High City, for the former Hornets All-Star’s first game in Denver with his new team.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Can you guess how many teams have fewer wins than the Denver Nuggets this season?

Are you ready? Did you write it down on a piece of paper?

Here’s the answer: one.

Now there are a couple teams that have three losses so far this season, but only one team - the Los Angeles Lakers - have fewer losses than the Nuggets.

Why is this of note? In the NBA, teams can make up wins if there are teams ahead of them in the standings. But they can’t undo losses. When it comes to playoff seeding, while wins are what teams are looking for, they’re really looking to not pick up losses. It may seem silly, but after 13 games, the Nuggets are doing great.

The Celtics are traveling to play in Denver after having picked up their third loss of the season, losing in overtime to the Clippers. It was an outstanding game, with both teams showing that they are going to be teams that are going to be in contention late into the season. The Celtics have found success in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s departure to the Brooklyn Nets, with a lot of help coming in the form of Kemba Walker. They’re playing a more up-tempo style, and with their plethora of guards and wings, are executing coach Brad Stevens’ vision for the season.

This won’t be an easy game for the Nuggets, especially going against a team that will be looking to start another win streak. It’ll be up to Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Monte Morris, and Torrey Craig to stymie the Celtics offense while finding ways to score against their defensive schemes.

The Basics

Who: Boston Celtics (11-3, 6-3 away) vs Denver Nuggets (10-3, 5-2 home)

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

When: 7:00 PM MT

How to watch: Altitude (Game 2 of their season series is on ESPN)

Rival Blog: Celtic’s Blog

Lineups

Player Matchups

POS BOS DEN EDGE
POS BOS DEN EDGE
PG Kemba Walker Jamal Murray Celtics
SG Marcus Smart Gary Harris Celtics
SF Jaylen Brown Will Barton Even
PF Jayson Tatum Paul Millsap Celtics
C Daniel Theis Nikola Jokic Nuggets
BENCH Brad Wanamaker, Grant Williams, Robert Williams, Semi Ojeleye, Carsen Edwards Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee Nuggets

Injuries: Celtics - Gordon Hayward (out - hand); Nuggets - none.

Three Things to Watch For

Just how dang good Marcus Smart is. Holy crap, is this guy good at basketball. Is he good at scoring 30 points a game? No. But he is a player that is going to help his team win, no matter what it requires. He might be tasked with guarding Nikola Jokic for a dozen possessions, and then get switched onto Jamal Murray if he starts to get hot. He’s going to be diving around the court for loose balls, exploding down the court to snuff out transition opportunities, and flying above the rim for rebounds. It’s really fun to watch him play, except when it’s against the Nuggets. Try to admire what he does, while also hoping he doesn’t have too good of a game.

Another Full Monté game? With the Celtics being able to slot in so many of their players on the perimeter, the Nuggets may not be able to put out their lineup of Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Juancho Hernangomez, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee. Porter Jr., in particular, seems like a player that would really be exposed against a team with as crafty guards as the Celtics have. I think it’s highly likely that the Nuggets get more minutes for Torrey Craig, similar to what they did against the Rockets on Wednesday night.

Back to back big Jokic games? The Nuggets were definitely grateful for the contributions of their franchise center in their game against the Rockets, picking up a big win against a team that they’re going to be competing against for playoff seeding at the end of the year. With 27 points, Jokic had a season-high in points. He’s been playing much better as of late, taking over games in his own unique way. With the play of a Slovenian wing in Dallas, lots of people seem to be forgetting about Jokic and his talent. Tonight would be a good night to remind NBA fans across the country which European player is better equipped to lead their team to a championship.

Prediction

Denver Nuggets 102 - Boston Celtics 100