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Denver Nuggets Defense Falters Against Celtics

Denver Nuggets Defense Falters Against Celtics
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Denver Nuggets start the road swing strong at 3-0, then run off a cliff in New England. After a thrilling 122-119 comeback win against Indiana on Wednesday, the Nuggets get out-rebounded and out-hustled defensively by Boston losing 131-112.

The last time we spoke here the Denver Nuggets were pwned by Portland. But, if you listen to me and Santiago on the Nug Life Podcast and followed my picks you should be sitting pretty this week. I advised that the Nuggets would start 3-0 and then run out of steam on the due east swing by the time they reached Boston. I of course was hoping to be wrong, but a 3-1 start and no worse than a 4-2 week long road trip is nothing to snuff at. These are humans, after all, their energy is finite, especially with no comforts of home.

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics set the tone early hitting his first 10 shots before finally bricking a lay-up. For all the credit you want to give Boston for playing a solid game, you can’t help but blame lackluster effort on the glass by the Denver Nuggets within the same breath. Nothing gives this sentiment life like the video below:

Denver Nuggets vs Boston Celtics Highlight

That is not NBA basketball, that is Rec-League at best. The Nuggets got away with some bad quarters against inferior rosters of San Antonio and Indiana. You can’t have those extended lapses against teams like Boston and expect to win. Compounding the issue for the Nuggets was the fact they started so poorly falling to a 33-25 deficit by the end of the first. The Celtics started the game with a 61.9% chance of winning, which was the lowest that probability ever fell. The Nuggets allowed Brown and Co. to deliver no less than 31 points in every quarter.

The Celtics had three players exceed 20 points in the aforementioned Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. Grant Williams’ 13 made it 4-out-of-5 Boston starters with double-digit points. Former CU Buff Derrick White and Payton Pritchard had 10 and 11 off the bench respectively. The Nuggets’ offense from the early portion of the road trip was only seen in spurts, not nearly good enough against the defending Eastern Conference Champions.

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For those that have been calling to see more Joker, you may have to argue we have seen too much over the last two contests. He has played almost the entire second half of both with four fouls. Jokic still managed to be the leading scorer in both games. He had 24 against the Pacers and 29 on Friday night. Unlike in Indiana where Nikola Jokic had five teammates join him with at least 15 points and a double-double by Aaron Gordon. On Friday night in Boston, he only had 3. Though Jamal Murray (14 pts/10 assists) and Bruce Brown (16 pts/10 rebs.) added double-doubles. The most telling stat though is 46-38, that’s how the Nuggets were out-rebounded by Boston. The Celtics never quit and the Nuggets never started.

It is only game 12 of 82, you can’t reasonably expect the energy level to be consistent over that many minutes on the floor. But the number one telling stat of the early season for Denver has been rebounding. When the Nuggets win the battle on the glass they are 7-0, they are 1-4 when they don’t. Although that seems pretty cut and dry, there is some nuance here to consider but is a storyline worth watching. We will see if a day off Saturday can re-energize this Denver Nuggets squad for another tough test in Chi-To

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What’s Next:

@ Chicago Bulls, Sunday, November 13 at 6:00 PM MST/8:00 PM EST

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