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Preview: Nuggets take on Celtics to open the new year

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (23-12) are set to take on the Boston Celtics (26-10) in an attempt to prove that they belong among the title favorites this season. The Celtics have been one of, if not the best teams in the league this season. They have the best offense in the league, and the seventh best defense. The last time these two teams took on each other, the Celtics played the Nuggets off the floor and blew them out 131-112.

The Nuggets are coming off of an extremely weird game against the Heat where they had a lot of mistakes, but came up big in the clutch when they needed to. In order to beat the Celtics, however, they will need to put together a full 48 minute effort — a point of emphasis for the team this whole season.


The Essentials:

Who: Boston Celtics (26-10, 11-5 away) @ Denver Nuggets (23-12, 13-3 home)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: League Pass and AltitudeTV, 92.5 FM Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Celtics Blog

Expected Starting Lineups:

BOS: PG Marcus Smart, SG Derrick White, SF Jaylen Brown, PF Jayson Tatum, C Al Horford

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokić

Injuries:

DEN: Collin Gillespie (Leg) Out, Bruce Brown (Ankle) Probable, Aaron Gordon (Shoulder) Probable, Jeff Green (Hand) Out, and Jamal Murray (Knee Management) Questionable

BOS: Danillo Gallinari (Knee) Out


Three Things to Watch For:

The Nuggets’ Defense

As of late, the Denver Nuggets have been getting better on defense, but the Celtics have the best offense in the entire association. The Nuggets will need to step up, and they need to show they can defend for a full game. The clutch defense has been nice, but the Nuggets need to show that they can bring it on that end for a full game. Aaron Gordon will especially have his hands full with Jayson Tatum.

Effort

As mentioned previously, the Nuggets have looked great when they are locked in, but those times can come and go at the drop of a hat. They always come through when they need to, but the Celtics are a team that they can’t mess around with. Offensive rebounds, transition, and turnovers will all need to be on point tonight.

Is Bones Out of his Slump?

In the last two games, Bones Hyland has shot the ball very well after shooting below 35% from 3 in the rest of the month. His shot making is a very important part of the Nuggets’ success so if he can piece together another game where he shoots the ball well, it can bode well for his play moving forward. Though he will need to focus on turnovers and defense still.