Keys to the Game: Nuggets 123, Celtics 107

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Sunday night’s game at TD Garden was supposed to feature the Celtics facing off with the Denver Nuggets.

Instead, it featured the Celtics facing off with Emmanuel Mudiay.

Mudiay was unstoppable during the first quarter of Denver’s 123-107 victory. He played all 12 minutes during the first period while scoring 24 points. His extreme offensive performance pushed Denver ahead by as many as many as 20 points during the opening frame and the Celtics never caught their balance after absorbing that haymaker.

Boston could not find an answer for the second-year point guard who found what must have been the best groove of his life. Mudiay hit nine of his 10 shots during the opening quarter, including a 3-for-4 performance from long range. Those three triples doubled his 3-point field goal total on the season.

To put Mudiay’s hot streak into perspective, the point guard’s career high in scoring heading into the game was 30. He was three-quarters of the way toward tying that high after the first 12 minutes of the game.

Mudiay scored only six points the rest of the night, tying his career high at 30 points overall, but that didn’t matter much. What mattered was his performance during the opening frame, which pushed his team to a comfortable lead that it never relinquished.

Key Player

Denver blew the Celtics out of their own building Sunday night. That much is true.

What’s also true – and much more at the positive end of the spectrum – is that Avery Bradley continues to showcase his ever-evolving skill set.

Bradley notched his third double-double of the season Sunday night by recording 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He also led Boston in assists with six helpers.

Three double-doubles may not sound too impressive on the surface, but that’s why we’re here to add context. Just how impressive are his three double-doubles on the season? Take this into consideration: Bradley had recorded only two total double-doubles during the first six seasons of his career prior to this season.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Isaiah Thomas and Emmanuel Mudiay tied for the game high in scoring with 30 points apiece.
  • Boston wound up outscoring Denver in the paint by a count of 52-50.
  • Denver's scoring decreased during each of the four quarters (42 during the first, 35 during the second, 26 during the third, and 20 during the fourth).
  • Jameer Nelson dished out a game-high seven assists.
  • The Celtics committed five turnovers during the first quarter, but only seven during the final three quarters combined.
  • Avery Bradley and Kenneth Faried tied for the game high in rebounds with 11 apiece.
  • The Celtics totaled 31 assists, compared to Denver's 21.
  • Only three Celtics (Thomas, Bradley and Marcus Smart) scored in double-figures.
  • Denver made three more 3-pointers (11) than Boston (eight) despite attempting two fewer (23 to 25).
  • Wilson Chandler came off the bench to score 22 points for Denver.
  • Three Celtics reserves (Gerald Green, Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson) scored eight points apiece.
  • Ten different players combined to account for the game's 10 steals.
  • Thomas accounted for 12 of Boston's 21 free throw attempts. He made 11 of his attempts.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens on his team's level of physicality.