There were three simple differences between the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets tonight.
- One team played all out on both ends of the court for 48 minutes and the other did not.
- One team played aggressive trap and recover on ball screens and fought through on other screens while the other switched most screens.
- 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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