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Denver Nuggets start hot, dominate for 3 quarters, then allow Boston back in it with ice cold 4th. Have 8-game win streak snapped with 105-87 loss.

The Denver Nuggets came with a top-5 offense and defense on an 8-game win streak despite missing Jamal Murray for the last 3 games and would be without him again on Sunday. That win streak is the longest of Coach Malone’s career, 2 times previously his team had won 7. The Boston Celtics came in with a middle-of-the-pack offense and top-10 defense. But, coming off a 53 point double-double by young star Jayson Tatum, they had to be feeling just as good as the home team.

That was until the game started anyways, as the Nuggets started hot with an 11-0 run to make it 15-6 with 5:30 left in the 1st. Michael Porter Jr. had 9 points in his first 7 mins. The Nuggets would build as much as a 14-point lead before the dust settled. The Celtics came in with the 9th best 3-pt%, but starting 1-9(11.1%) is not going to help anyone’s cause, I don’t care what star is missing from the opposition. The Nuggets on the other hand started 41.7% from deep sinking 5-12. Including one each off the bench from P.J. Dozier and JaMychal Green.

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The Celtics fought in the paint though and rode that defense to out-rebound the Nuggets by 2, leading to a small close in that 14-point gap. By spreading the wealth to 7 players scoring and closing to within 11 at 27-16 when the whistle blew. The Celtics didn’t have a player score more than 6 in the quarter, showing the Denver D continuing to be stiff, even when the scoring dries up for stretches.

The 2nd quarter saw that same Celtics D come to play, but their offense still lags as their poor 3-pt shooting continued. At the halfway point of the quarter, they actually dropped that paltry 11.1% to 9.1%(1-11). But were still able to close the lead as at this same point they had 11 free throws (8-11) to Denver’s 0. Denver didn’t get their first 2 free throws until 6:53 to go in the frame. An even crazier fact, despite Denver having a 9-point lead at 6:00 mins. to go in the half, not a single point came from possible MVP Nikola Jokic. He did not score until 4:30 to go in the half on a one-hand floater.

Here is evidence of Facundo losing his mind on both sides of the floor courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

This was of no fault of Joker, this was the game plan for Boston. The 43 point performance by Jokic last time these two teams faced each other obviously had an impact. They doubled, if not tripled, Jokic every time he even sniffed the paint. I’m sure a lot will be made about the two technicals on Joker and Jayson Tatum, and I can no longer blame anyone. The absolutely sketchy late calls and almost down-right refusal to give Nikola a chance at the stripe is maddening. I really try to leave the refs alone and preach “control what you can control”. But this is getting out of hand. Jayson Tatum stood at 5-5 from the charity strip despite never really being all that aggressive. As opposed to the entire Nuggets team at 6-7.

Yes this is less of a factor when your opponent goes 2-17 from 3, and 15-43 from the field. But without that disparity in free-throws, the Celtics are being blown out at the half. Not down just 6 at 51-45. Jokic ended the half at 3 pts/6 ast/5 reb. Michael Porter Jr. held his own with a game high 13 pts. and 6 reb. The Denver D did kick it up a notch to keep the Celtics at bay with the bench only contributing 12 pts/6 reb/3 ast, they closed the team rebound margin to 26 all by the half. That defense and MPJ turning it up to 11 on the offensive end, and Facundo Campazzo dropping 8 pts on 5-5 shooting with 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and a block from the shortest guy on the court. This Celtics team is relentless, the Nuggets don’t have the luxury of a slow second-half after a 6-point half-time lead at 51-45.

Here is how sweet Facund was stroking the shot today courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

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The 3rd-quarter saw Boston coach Brad Stevens burn his only replay challenge just 13 seconds into the frame. This was on a pretty blatant goal-tending call. And almost as if Jokic and company heard my typing, and before his detractors could use that paltry first-half slash line against him. They all kicked it up a notch, before the 3rd quarter was over, Jokic was 1 rebound away from his 14th triple-double, while scoring 14 in the quarter. This allowed the Nuggets to grow as much as a 14-point lead. I know, sports stats are funny, this is why I love them. The Nuggets had only one player (MPJ) reach double digits in the first half. By the end of 3, 4-out-of-5 starters were in double digits, Lead by Nikola and MPJ at 17 a piece. Facundo had 14 and Will Barton chipped in 12, leaving Aaron Gordon to trail with 7 pts/7 rebs.

Boston was able to close the lead to within 7 points by the end of the frame by 4 of their own starters reaching double digits, including a game-high 18 pts by Jaylen Brown. After Denver built that 14 point lead, they rested their starters. Boston did not, and promptly went on an 18-0 run against the Denver bench gaining them their first lead of the game with 10:53 to go in the game 80-79. At 8:39 to go in the 4th, the Denver Nuggets had yet to score a single bucket. Inexplicably, there was not a single movement on the Denver bench until this moment when JaMychal Green committed his 5th personal foul, and Paul Milsap had committed his 4th. While they contributed 5 pts, 4 rebs, and 3 turnovers.

Here is one of our favorite things to help the medicine go down, a Joker Jam! Courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

How the Nuggets coach Michael Malone allowed a 20-1 run go on without a single change to the lineup only he can explain. This flipped a 14-point lead, into a 5-point deficit before you make a single move. I rarely question Coach Malone, but this was unfathomable to watch. Especially when your star was as hot as he was in the 3rd, you just let him sit and cool on the bench for almost 10 mins. of game time while that lead evaporates? This stretch saw Denver go from a 94% win probability to the Celtics reaching 86.6%.

The starters came back in cold, MPJ continued his struggles from 3 going 1-11 to this point. So as much as they come out firing to start the half, they went just as cold leading to a 14-point Boston lead with just 4:41 to go in the game. Too bad they didn’t hear my earlier warning about this Boston team being resilient. This would end Nikola Jokic’s night, as he sat and never saw the court again. After that hot start to the game by Denver, they ended up just above 37% from the field. This will lead to a 31-3 lead when the opposing team trends the opposite way, They only had 1 made 3 after 3 quarters. They ended up sinking 7. They also outshot the Nuggets at the line with 23 attempts to 18 by Denver.

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The Celtics out worked the Nuggets on the boards to the tune of a +6 rebound differential. The Denver bench was atrocious with no player having a better than -23 +/- rating. Boston’s bench wasn’t much better, but their defense never let up, no matter the deficit. This allowed them the moment to strike as they did with that 31-3 run. Jokic ended up with his triple-double, and MPJ put up another double-double. But MPJ going 1-11 from 3, and absolutely pathetic shooting from 1:30 to go in the 3rd until the final whistle did the Nuggets in. This is quite possibly the worst way to lose a winning streak. The Celtics just bullied them into submission. But now we get to see how this team reacts to getting smacked in the mouth. They should have a much easier go of it against a bottom-10 defense in Golden State on the 2nd half of a back-to-back on Monday.

Up Next:

@ Golden State Warriors Monday, April 11, at 8:00 PM MST

Where to Watch:

National Broadcast: ESPN