Celtics

NBA: Celtics Look to Continue Streak vs. Nuggets

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Denver Nuggets (13-6) at Boston Celtics (16-4)
Wednesday, December 8
7:00 PM ET
Game #21, Home Game #11
TV:  ESPN, CSNNE, ASE
Radio:  WEEI, KCKK
TD Garden 
Referees: Ed Malloy, Kevin Fehr, Kane Fitzgerald  
 
The Celtics look for their 8th straight win as they welcome the Denver Nuggets to the Garden. The Nuggets were on a 7 game win streak of their own before losing a close game last night to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Celtics have been off since Sunday afternoon and come into this game rested, but injuries have depleted the team. Big Baby, Shaq, Rondo, and Nate are all questionable along with Perk, JO and Delonte who are definitely out. Avery Bradley, Von Wafer and Luke Harangody may get to show their stuff in this one.  
These two teams are on opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. The Celtics put a priority on their defense while the Nuggets are an offensive team, averaging 105.8 points per game, good for 5th in the league. The Celtics will need to play their tough team defense for the entire game to slow down this Nuggets team that has scorers at every position.   
This will be a good chance for the Celtics to get a win over a quality opponent.  Both teams have been playing well. Both teams are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Both teams have just 1 loss at home, but the Nuggets haven't had as much success once they leave home, coming in with a 3-6 record on the road. They are playing in the second of back to back games after a game that went down to the wire last night. This may give the Celtics a slight advantage, which they will need given all the injuries they are dealing with. 
Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
  vs 
Rajon Rondo  11.4 PPG, 14.1 APG,  2.3 SPG
Chauncey Billups 14.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, 1.1 SPG

Shooting Guard 

  vs 
Ray Allen  15.9 PPG,  3.1 APG, .421 3P%
Arron Afflalo 12.3 PPG, 2.5 APG,  .426 3P%

Small Forward
  vs 
Paul Pierce  19.6 PPG,  4.8 RPG,  2.7 APG 
Carmelo Anthony  23.3 PPG,  8.1 RPG,  3.4 APG

Power Forward

  vs 
Kevin Garnett    15.7 PPG,  9.6 RPG,  0.6 BPG
Shelden Williams  5.6 PPG,  6.2 RPG,  0.7 BPG 

Center

  vs 
Shaquille O'Neal  11.9 PPG,  6.6 RPG,  0.6 BPG
Nene Hilario  13.7 PPG,  6.8 RPG,  1.00 BPG 

Boston Bench Mob
Nate Robinson
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Luke Harangody
Marquis Daniels 

Injuries
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Kendrick Perkins (knee)  out
Delonte West  (wrist)  out
Rajon Rondo (hamstring, feet)  game time decision
Nate Robinson (foot, death in family)  probable
Shaquille O'Neal (knee) game time decision 

Glen Davis (flu) questionable  

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Denver's Reserves
Al Harrington
J.R. Smith
Ty Lawson
Renaldo Balkman
Anthony Carter
Gary Forbes
Melvin Ely

Injuries

Kenyon Martin (knee) out
Chris Andersen (back) day to day

Key Matchups
  vs 
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
This is another matchup between two great players. Both are tough and both do whatever their teams need.  Pierce puts Melo in a select group of players that leave him bruised and achy after a game.  This will be a fun matchup to watch.

  vs 
Rajon Rondo vs Chauncey Billups 
This will be a tough matchup for Rondo if he isn't 100%. Billups is a cagey veteran player and has burned the Celtics in the past. If Rondo can't go, it will be even tougher for Nate. It may help that Chauncey is playing in back to back games but still will be a tough matchup for the Celtics. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Shelden Williams
Shelden Williams has moved into the starting lineup for Denver and Celtics fans have to be happy for him as he was a fan favorite in Boston. But, don't expect KG to take it easy on him. When the game starts, he is fair game for KG. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - I may sound like a broken record, but Defense is the key to every game this season. If they come into every game with the mindset to make defense a priority, they stand a good chance of winning every one. When they slack off on defense, it affects every part of their game. 

Rebound -  Since much of rebounding is effort and desire, the effort put out on the boards usually indicates how much the team really wants the game. The team that wins the battle of the boards usually comes out on top because the effort needed to out rebound the other team carries across all other areas of the game. 

Go to the Hoop- In their 7 game win streak, the Celtics have outscored their opponents by large numbers in the paint. The Celtics must continue to take the ball to the basket and not settle for outside jumpers. 

Play 48 Minutes- The Celtics have had a tendency to either start out slow and then play catch up or to let up once they get a lead. That can work against some of the weaker teams but against a tough team like the Nuggets, the Celtics must come out strong and maintain that for 48 minutes. 

Move the Ball- When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, they are very tough to beat. They have so many weapons that they always get a good shot. When the ball movement slows and players try to do too much, it usually ends in a loss. 

Interesting Fact
Nuggets Coach, George Karl, is looking to get his 1000th win in this game. 

X-Factors
Home Court and Injuries
The Celtics are 9-1 at home and have said that they want to protect their home court this season, something they didn't do last year. They need to continue to make home court an advantage and make the Garden a place to be feared again. However, the home court advantage may be nullified by the number of injuries that left the team with just 9 players available for practice yesterday.