Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics Preview
Denver is 14-5 on the season including 7-1 vs the Eastern Conference. The Nuggets are 6-2 on the road this season. Denver has lost two of its last three games however, they had won 10 of their previous 11 before that. The Nuggets played the New York Knicks Thursday night and were victorious 129-92.
Boston comes into Friday’s game with a 15-5 record but they are just 5-3 vs the Western Conference this season. The Celtics have won four out of their last five games including a 112-93 win over the Miami Heat back on December 4.
Denver won the previous matchup between the two teams back on November 23. The Nuggets won 96-92 but that game will be remembered as the one that saw Celtics G Kemba Walker sustain a severe head injury that resulted in Walker missing one game due to a concussion.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: TD Garden
Nuggets: Bol Bol (O)
Celtics: Gordon Hayward and Romeo Langford (O), Marcus Smart (GTD)
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Denver is coming off of a dominant 129-92 victory over the New York Knicks Thursday night. The Nuggets were led by their bench in the blowout win. Of the 129 points scored by Denver, 74 came from the reserves including 16 points from Jerami Grant.
The Nuggets were dominant in the win despite Nikola Jokic only scoring six points. He did contribute a team-high eight assists and 10 rebounds.
The win helped snap a two-game skid. Despite playing the night before the Nuggets should be well-rested as none of Denver’s starters logged over 24 minutes.
Denver comes into Friday nights game ranked No. 18 in offensive rating (107.4) and No. 1 in defensive rating (101.5). Their net rating (6.0) ranks No. 7 in the NBA. In their last 10 games, Denver has posted a net rating of 8.9 which is fourth-best in the league over that time frame.
The Nuggets defeated the Celtics in their only meeting earlier this season but Kemba Walker only played 12 minutes before suffering an injury. Denver will need to rely on their league-leading defense as they try to stop a Celtics offense that has been clicking lately.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
The Boston Celtics come into Friday’s showdown having defeated the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The victory was impressive as Celtics overcame an eight-point second-quarter deficit by outscoring the Heat by 16 in the quarter.
Boston would coast from there as they pushed their lead to as many as 23. The Celtics were led by Kemba Walker who finished with 28 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics in scoring in that game as he finished with a season-high 31 points on 10-20 shooting (5-9 from three).
The Celtics keep winning despite dealing with several key players suffering injuries. Gordon Hayward has been out since 11/9 with a hand injury but Head Coach Brad Stevens said it’s likely that he returns before their Christmas Day game vs Toronto.
Boston has also seen Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Daniel Theis all miss at least one game this season.
The Celtics are one the leagues most balanced offenses as they have five players averaging double figures in scoring with four of them averaging over 18 points per game.
The Celtics have the No. 10 offense (110.0) and No. 4 defense (103.2) in the NBA. Their net rating ranks No. 6, one spot ahead of the Nuggets.
Key Player Matchups
Kemba Walker vs. Jamal Murray
Kemba Walker and Jama Murray should be the featured matchup of the game. Both are the leading scorers for their respective teams and both average at least 4.8 assists per game.
Walker was scoreless in the 12 minutes he played against Denver earlier in the season while Murray finished the game with 22 points to go with six rebounds and five assists. Both of these guards are capable of having big games and it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them has a big-time performance tonight.
Walker is coming off of a great game against Miami and will look to continue his hot streak.
Daniel Theis vs. Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic was one of the NBA’s best players last season but he’s had a slow start to this season. His points, rebounds, and assists per game numbers are all down from last season as well as field-goal percentage.
Despite those numbers being down, his on/off numbers are up according to Cleaning the Glass. Jokic’s efficiency differential is +7.2 as the Nuggets score 6.1 more points with him while giving up 1.1 less on defense.
Theis will have his hands full trying to slow down Jokic as so much of the Nuggets offense is run through him. In their first matchup Jokic had eight points while guarded by Theis as he shot 4-8 (according to NBA stats).
Jayson Tatum vs. Will Barton
Points should be expected when it comes to the Tatum/Barton matchup. They scored a combined 31 points in their first matchup with Tatum getting the best of Barton 16 to 15.
Tatum has been on a tear lately scoring as he has scored at least 16 points in each of the Celtics last eight games. During that time he has scored 30 points twice.
Barton went for 17 points on 6-9 shooting vs the Knicks but in the previous game vs the Lakers, he was 2-11 for five points.
Jokic is projected to score 45.59 points and he is available for $8k on FanDuel.
If you are looking for cheaper options, Jamal Murray is available for $6.4k while being projected for 34.27 points. Boston’s Jaylen Brown is projected to score 32.77 while only costing $6.8k.
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