The Denver Nuggets are fresh off their first loss since the All Star break. After falling down big and coming all the way back to force overtime, the Nuggets couldn’t overcome Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in a tough loss. Two days later they get the team with the best record in the NBA, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are strong favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals as their revamped roster around stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown has paid dividends thus far. Boston added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the offseason which has completed their roster into the most talented team in the East and perhaps in the NBA entirely. Denver will need to have a top notch performance to secure the victory.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (42-20) vs Boston Celtics (48-13)

When: 8PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. TNT. NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5. Talk like an obnoxious townie, wear a bunch of Dunkin Donuts merch and say you are part of Ben Affleck’s entourage.

Rival blog: Celtics Blog

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Suns Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Jrue Holiday Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Derrick White Celtics
SF Michael Porter Jr. Jaylen Brown Even
PF Aaron Gordon Jayson Tatum Celtics
C Nikola Jokic Kristaps Porzingis Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet, Al Horford, Sam Hauser Even

Injury report: Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Jaylen Brown – questionable (back), Neemias Queta – out (knee), JD Davidson – out (G-League), Drew Peterson – out (G-League), Jordan Walsh – out (G-League).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Starters vs Starters

Jan 19, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) have a jump ball in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I’m very intrigued by the starting lineup matchup in this one. The Celtics have a starting five unit that is loaded with talent, so do the Nuggets, and they are the one team in the NBA you could argue from a pure talent perspective might have a better starting five than Denver. Here’s the rub though, they are so smol. Jrue Holiday and Derrick White are fantastic guard defenders and have good size for the point guard position, Boston can put either on Jamal Murray and know that’s a matchup that they have the right personnel for. Unfortunately, both guys are undersized for anything other than point guard so playing them at the same time in the starting lineup causes Boston to be undersized across the board. Brown should be at the other guard spot but instead at small forward he gets matched up with 6’10” Michael Porter Jr. Tatum should be at small forward but instead is playing power forward where he’ll give up 25 pounds of muscle to Aaron Gordon. Kristaps Porzingis is great as a rim protecting four but as a five who has to bang down low with Nikola Jokic? Let’s just say the results haven’t been in the Zinger’s favor. Now, the Celtics do have two solid bigs to bring off the bench in Al Horford and Luke Kornet so I’ll be curious to see how long they stick with the starters and when they do will it create matchups Denver can exploit.

The thing to remember: Celtics are looking for a little bit of payback

The Nuggets won a 102-100 grind it out affair with Boston back in January and that happened to be the Celtics first loss at home this season. The Nuggets have already lost six games at home this season so Boston coming in here and winning probably won’t sting quite the same but I’m sure they’d still like to return the favor of handing Denver a loss on their own court. Like the Nuggets, the Celtics are also coming off a tough, streak blowing loss on national TV on Tuesday after the Cleveland Cavaliers won a challenge in the final seconds of the game to secure a victory. Both teams are going to be hungry for a win and I expect playoff type intensity and atmosphere.

The thing to bet:  Nuggets -1.5 (-110)

Like I said, Boston is extremely talented but I just don’t buy the matchup for the Celtics here. I especially like it for the Nuggets on their homecourt. I’ve seen Joker take Porzingis to task so many times it’s comical. I don’t know how Tatum will keep from getting bullied constantly in the post by Gordon and if Porter’s shot is going he can shoot right over Brown any time he wants. I like the Nuggets in this one and I’ll risk that they won’t win the game on a buzzer beating one point win.

Stiffs Night Out Again Tonight!!

We’re heading back down to Number Thirty-Eight in Rino to watch this game. Come on by for great drink specials, prize giveaways, live podcast and watching the Nuggets beat up on the Celtics on numerous big screens. It was a fantastic time on Saturday and I’m hoping to see everyone again (plus some who couldn’t make it last time) tonight! The grand prize will be a Jamal Murray jersey, sign up here to be eligible to win (must be present).