2008-09 Game 57: Denver Nuggets 76 – Boston Celtics 114

Box Score | Highlights

There were three simple differences between the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets tonight.

  1. One team played all out on both ends of the court for 48 minutes and the other did not.
  2. One team played aggressive trap and recover on ball screens and fought through on other screens while the other switched most screens.
  3. One team made their shots and the other did not.

One team was the Celtics and they won by 38.  The other team was the Nuggets and they lost by 38.

Playing hard for 48 minutes is a cliché.  Every team has slumps of a few minutes here and there where the effort wanes and they get lazy.  I promise you the Celtics played their bums off for all 48 minutes.  The collective competitive spirit puts the Nuggets to shame.  Kendrick Perkins was bickering with the refs with about a minute left after he was called for traveling.  These guys do not care what the score is.  The score is almost immaterial.  They are giving it their all from start to finish.

For the Nuggets the built in excuse is that they have been on a three week long road trip and it was unfair to ask them to play the Celtics a day after they played in Milwaukee.  I am not buying it.  As has been pointed out by many people, including myself, the road trip they just finished was only a three game trip.  Sure they played five road games in a row before that, but they had six whole days off during the All-Star break.  The Celtics were the team that had to check into hotels last night after playing in Phoenix. 

Honestly it did not matter who suited up, how many days in a row the Nuggets had played or what strategy the coaches asked the players to implement.  Boston played with confidence and determination while the Nuggets looked like a scrawny book worm getting ready to ask out the prom queen. 

Denver has now lost by 40 points, give or take a couple of points, twice in their last seven games.  Does that scream contender?  The game in New Jersey could be written off as a fluke, but for it to happen again just seven games later is shocking.  I guarantee you the Trail Blazers and Jazz are licking their chops right now.

Denver now has a day off to prepare for an Atlanta Hawks team that was blown out by the Jazz and two days later the Lakers roll into town.  They better get their act together by Wednesday or else they will be going back out on the road with a five game losing streak.

 Additional Game 57 Nuggets

  • After the game George Karl said that they ran into a team who was, “Angry and pissed off and wanted to beat us.”  Why weren’t the Nuggets that team?  They gave away two winnable games and were returning home against the defending world champions.  Show some heart and show some pride.  I know the Celtics are good.  Accept the challenge. 
  • Ahead of the pack and bucket short of a 40 point margin of victory most people probably would not have batted an eye had Bill Walker put home a dunk with just a few ticks left on the clock.  I thought he made a classy play by pulling the ball out and running out the clock. 
  • Was anyone disappointed in the play of Johan Petro?   He cannot catch a pass in traffic to save his life (Chauncey will not even pass to him unless he has no other option), but he can has little jumper, decent touch around the rim, can rebound and had a couple of nice blocks.  He has been called on twice and in my book came through twice after playing well in Orlando and again tonight.
  • Once again George Karl lacked the “courage” to play Renaldo Balkman in the second half tonight.  Balkman was the only Nugget other than the injured Nene to record a DNC-CD.  As BeefySwats pointed out in the game thread there was a portion of the game where Anthony Carter was matched up against Paul Pierce.  Pierce just shot over the much smaller Carter and looked like he could have challenged Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points in a game with Carter on him.  Could that have been a good time to dust off Balkman? 
  • Chauncey looked slow tonight.  Rondo can do that to his opposition, but it was more than that.  His pathetic point total was a result of his very poor shot selection.
  • J.R. Smith was the only Nugget who was determined and able to attack the basket.  He made a couple of terrible passes, but once he realized he could finish against whoever the Celtics had at the rim he put in layup after layup.
  • Even Chris Marlowe acknowledged that the way to beat the Celtics defense is to move the ball and dislodge their defense with quick passing and movement.  The Nuggets played almost entirely one on one basketball.  Clearly it did not work. 
  • The Nuggets cut their turnovers down to 17, but for the second straight game they finished with more turnovers than assists.
  • I mentioned in my preview that the Nuggets Pythagorean projected record without Nene this season was 6-76.  After tonight it is 3-79.

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  89.5

Defensive Efficiency:  127.4 – Fourth worst single game rating this season.

Offensive Efficiency:  84.9 – Second lowest single game rating this season ahead of only the 44 point drubbing in New Jersey.

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  • Nuggets4

    You know, a few weeks ago when we were talking about how we didn’t want to finish third, I assumed we were talking about the Western Conference. Now I’m starting to to wonder if we meant the Northwest Division.

  • BeefySwats

    Thanks for the mention, Jeremy – also my fan blog doesn’t seem to be working correctly.

    Not much else to say about this one, you covered it pretty well. I want them to wash this one off and get two dubs to finish this week, but I can’t say I’m too hopeful.

    The last stretch of the season is going to be a nail-biter, I think.

  • snafuthai

    I was actually impressed at how effective the Celtics were at taking advantage of the Nuggets switching on screens. Whether it was Ray Allen driving past a big man, Paul Pierce backing down a smaller player for an easy jumper, or one of their big guys taking one of our guards in the post, they absolutely destroyed the Nuggets on switches. A lot of teams recognize the mismatches on switches, but don’t take full advantage of the situation for whatever reason. Last night though, every single switch seemed to result in the Celtics getting a good shot or a foul.

  • BeefySwats

    Hey Jeremy, can you answer a question for me?

    Why is Dahntay Jones still a starting SG? I’m not even saying to start JR because we need his scoring off the bench, but look at his boxscore (amongst the other atrocious numbers from the other starters):

    0-5, 3pts, 3 rebs, 1 stl, 2 turnovers, -17. AS THE STARTING SHOOTING GUARD.

    Yet Balkman gets no minutes. Why??? Balkman could play the SG position as well as or better than Dahntay, and brings the size that the Nuggets obviously sorely need. At least Balkman can finish in the paint! I can’t count how many times Dahntay has driven to the lane and simply flubbed the layup because he has no finishing ability.

    The Nuggets are not going anywhere if Dahntay continues to get starter minutes.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Beefy, the simple answer is George Karl likes what Jones brings to the table.

    Obviously most of us disagree. Earlier in the season I defended Jones because he was running and finishing at the rim. As you pointed out, he has not been finishing recently and despite his half court heave before half time in Milwaukee he is a horrid shooter. He is also a poor passer which does not help. As far as his defense, it is seriously overrated. He had a couple of superlative defensive games earlier this season, but he certainly has not had one recently.

    I like Balkman as much as any of us, but I do not think he is the answer at starting shooting guard. I say start J.R. and from there you can manage the rotation so that you do not end up with too many non scorers on the floor at the same time.

    I do not care how many points the starters score or how many points the bench scores. All I care about is the final score.