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Preview: Jokic and the Nuggets take on Tatum and the Celtics in Boston

Two All-Stars headline the show tonight while Denver looks to snap a three-game losing streak against Boston

Denver Nuggets v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets will face the Boston Celtics for the first time this season. The Nuggets have lost their last three games against the Celtics. Last season, the Nuggets struggled offensively, only able to muster 87 points in their last outing and 99 in the matchup before that. Unfortunately for Denver, they are facing a red-hot Celtics group right now. They have won their last six games and eight of their last nine.

Boston’s two stars Tatum and Brown have been the catalyst behind their success. In their last nine, Tatum is averaging 26.9 PPG and Brown 23.3. While their two stars lead the offensive charge, their defense is the most impressive aspect of this team. They are 4th in the league in opponent’s PPG at 103.8, and they hold the same ranking at home allowing opponents to score just 103 PPG. With that being said, the Nuggets offense is just as hot as the Celtics defense. Over Denver’s last nine games, they rank 5th in the NBA in scoring at 118.4 PPG, so tonight is an intriguing battle of offense vs defense.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (30-24, 15-14 away) @ Boston Celtics (31-25, 18-10 home)

When: 5:30 PM MT

Where: TD Garden

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: CelticsBlog

Expected Starting Lineups:

BOS: PG Marcus Smart, SG Jaylen Brown, SF Jayson Tatum, PF Al Horford, C Robert Williams lll

DEN: PG Bones Hyland, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Monte Morris (out), Austin Rivers (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (out), Derrick White (day to day), Daniel Theis (day to day)

Three Keys

Show upper management they were right

The Nuggets stayed silent at the trade deadline, which means they have some confidence in the group assembled currently. Typically, the trade deadline is a rough time for teams in seeing their teammates depart, but for the Nuggets their roster remains intact. Hopefully, this breeds more chemistry and confidence in this group to know their franchise believes in this team moving forward. The Celtics made some moves by trading Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a first-round pick to acquire Derrick White while also trading their point guard Dennis Schroder to Houston. In the long run, those moves look to bolster their roster, but for tonight, the Nuggets might be able to capitalize on a changing Celtics lineup.

Get out in transition

In the route versus the Knicks, the Nuggets outscored New York in transition 21-8. This effort helped the Nuggets maintain and extend their lead throughout the game. Transition baskets help augment offensive and defensive confidence, and if the Nuggets are able to force turnovers and capitalize in transition, it might be able to demoralize a very good Celtic defense. Monte Morris is expected to be out tonight, so his patience in the half-court might have to be compensated by a fast-paced effort tonight.

Limit Tatum and Brown

These two are the engines behind the Celtics offense. Over the course of the season, the Celtics rank 18th in scoring with 108.4 per game, so if the Nuggets are able to neutralize their two stars in some way, it might be tough sledding for their role players to handle the load offensively. At home, their two stars are fairly even in their scoring averages. Tatum averages 24.2 and Brown 23.3, so this is a consistent pairing and it is usually assumed role players play better at home. If the Nuggets are able to force these two into tough shots most of the night, that is all you can ask for. Denver’s offense will also need to show up because in their last four outings versus the Celtics, they have not cracked the 100 mark.