Denver (9-1): 115-Boston (6-4): 107
Kyrie Irving: 31 PTS 5 REB 5 AST 3 STL
Jaylen Brown: 15 PTS 4 REB 1 STL
Al Horford: 12 PTS 4 REB 6 AST 1 STL
Jamal Murray: 48 PTS (Career High) 5 REB 4 AST
Nikola Jokic: 8 PTS 10 REB 8 AST
Gary Harris: 13 PTS 5 REB 3 AST 3 STL
I’ll be the first one to say it, that was NOT fun whatsoever. The Celtics came into Denver trying to get their first win on their 5 game road-trip. Needless to say, Jamal Murray had much different plans and he hurt my feelings. Boston came out firing on all cylinders to start as they blitzed the Nuggets with unselfish offense and forced a multitude of turnovers as their hands were super active on switches. This hot start led them out to a quick 10-2 lead. From there, Murray had it going early and often as he went on a stretch of 10 straight points to bring the Nuggets back. The Celtic’s offense looked promising as they forced up less threes, moved the ball crisply, and were making a concerted effort to get into the paint. The combination of the hot shooting and defense caused the Nuggets to have trouble getting their footing in this one. Murray finished the quarter with 14 points on 6-7 from the field but alas, the Celtics led 34-19 after one.
I would love to tell you that something else happened to start the 2nd, I really would. These recaps are getting a bit repetitive but I guess that’s just how the Celtics roll, they blew the lead, immediately. 9-0 run for Denver to start the frame courtesy of the Celtic’s second unit. This wasn’t their finest hour as they were a combined 10-26 from the floor and only a single member held a positive +/- mark (Robert Williams who played 2 minutes). Marcus Smart had a couple of nice moments defensively but other than that it was a very poor showing from the bench. Once Kyrie came back in things got fun as he and Murray dueled to end the half. The quarter was capped off by a Kyrie step-back three ball which gave the Celtics a 56-54 advantage heading into the half.
Still cooking from the first half Kyrie came out gunning. He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands and it was all on display tonight as you could say he was in his BAG. He also produced some highlight reel material as on one possession he led the break, weaved through Juan Hernangomez with a sweet in and out, went with his right up to the rim, and in a true moment of theatrics only he can achieve, whipped the ball back around and finished with his left for a silly and-one. Silky. SMOOTH. He wouldn’t let this team go down and his effort was valiant on a night where not much went right. It seemed as though whenever he was on the bench things would go wayward and this was the case as the Nuggets closed the quarter on an 11-2 run pushing the lead to 88-81.
This is where our story gets quite dark and gloomy if you’re a fan of the team in green. With Kyrie still on the bench the offense struggled. Hayward, Tatum, Morris, and Rozier all had really rough efforts tonight offensively and they all looked to be forcing things a bit. They also reverted back to jacking up errant threes and continued to dig themselves a hole. Once again, Mr. Irving had to come forth to save the day. He put his best foot forward as he not only got guys involved, but hit some big shots down the stretch, including a crowd shushing corner three. Form there at 93-90 Morris got called for a clear charge and proceeded to pick up a technical after barking at the official. While it doesn’t seem like much, the loss of composure hurt this team as they then gave up a 9-2 run in the moments after the tech. From then on, it was all about Jamal Murray. He was a flamethrower as he capped off his 48-point career high with an electrifying 21-point 4th quarter. He couldn’t miss. Defender, no defender, 3 pointers, layups, stepbacks, circus shots, it didn’t matter, he hit it. He fed off of the crowd and willed his team to a win. Although he was great, the Celtics had a few costly lapses. Most notably, on the left wing down 99-94 Murray came off of a screen and Jaylen/Smart had a miscommunication on the switch thus, leaving him with a wide open 3. I get miscommunications, I really do, it happens all of the time, but you have to be aware of who’s coming off of that screen in a close game in the 4th. It really hurt the Celtics and from there it was Murray’s playground. He continued to terrorize the Celtic defenders as they were rendered helpless by the 3rd year guard. In the end, the Celtics fell short as the Nuggets closed the game out and kudos to them on a big win to push them to 9-1.
- The offense needs to figure out how to operate with Kyrie Irving on the bench. It’s looked forced and the shot selection has been spotty at best
- Terry Rozier has had a rough start to the season as he continues to force shots (2-9 from the floor) and seems to still be carving his role out.
- They’re finding out they can’t just walk into the arena and beat teams. They have a target on their backs and everybody is gunning for them, they can’t keep falling asleep and giving up leads.
- Rebounding again is an issue for this team as Denver outrebounded them 47-40 overall and 15-7 in terms of offensive rebounds. Daniel Theis has been missed and hopefully in the meantime someone (cough cough Robert Williams) can step up and give this team some rebounding help.
- I like the idea of running the offense through Hayward when Kyrie is on the bench. Once he gets fully up to speed I see this as a huge advantage as his ability to effectively facilitate gives the team a lot of versatility to work with
- GOOD NEWS, Jaylen built upon a solid showing on Saturday as he continues to force the issue on offense and really play to his strengths by going hard to the basket and finishing at the rim
Player of the Game: Jamal Murray
Incredible performance, I absolutely cannot lie about that. As a basketball fan it was fun to watch as he was on a level not many guys in the league can get to on a given night. Since being drafted in 2016 he has kind of fled under the radar as the Nuggets haven’t been the most popular team out there the past few years. Hopefully a night like this will garner some fandom towards him because this dude can hoop. He’s been burying threes with that smooth jumper since his days under Coach Cal at Kentucky and his handle has only gotten better as he’s grown in this league. Coach Mike Malone has also given him some freedom to run the point which has been fun to watch as a developing part of his game.
We’ll see you Thursday night 11/8 in the desert as the Celtics take on the Suns (2-7) in Phoenix
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