Keys to the Game: Celtics 124, Nuggets 118
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
Wednesday night’s matchup with the Nuggets was a bit tighter than the Celtics would have liked, but in the end, they pulled out a 124-118 win. Three key buckets helped the Celtics fend off the pesky Nuggets.
Denver had clawed to within 108-101 with 6:40 remaining in the game after it scored five consecutive points. Then the C’s got a big bucket from, of all players, big man Daniel Theis to alter the course of the game. And the bucket was, surprisingly, a fadeaway jumper, a shot that Theis rarely – if ever – attempts.
Theis accepted a pass in the paint from Shane Larkin with only 4.4 seconds left on the shot clock. With his defender, Mason Plumlee, sagging off of him just a bit, Theis immediately fired up a fadeaway jumper from about 10 feet out and connected at the 6:18 mark of the fourth. His bucked pushed Boston ahead 110-101.
Kyrie Irving added to that lead on Boston’s next possession, just 10 seconds after the C’s forced a shot-clock violation by the Nuggets.
Irving, flanked off the ball and out on the left wing, caught his defender sleeping and quickly cut toward the basket unbeknownst to Denver’s defense. Marcus Smart, who had the ball just outside the right elbow, tossed him a perfect bounce pass and Irving finished on the other end of the dish with a left-handed layup off the glass.
Jamal Murray answered back with a quick bucket for the Nuggets, but Irving went back to work yet again as the C’s took the ball back into possession.
This bucket came via a very different play type. Irving was isolated along the left baseline against Murray, and after he jabbed twice, he stepped back for a jumper that was pure from about 20 feet out.
Irving’s basket, which was Boston’s third in three possessions, provided the team with a 114-103 lead with 4:52 remaining in the game. Neither team scored again until the 3:01 mark, and at that point, Denver just didn’t have enough time to make a legitimate run.
Shane Larkin won’t have many nights during which he makes more of an impact than he did Wednesday night. He was great off of Boston’s bench.
Larkin led all reserves by scoring 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance, which included two makes from long distance. His 14 points were just two shy of the 16 points Denver's entire bench scored. He also tied for the team high with two steals while tallying three rebounds and two assists.
And did we mention that he did all of this in less than 18 minutes of action?
He was a true spark plug. As Brad Stevens said after the game, “I felt like Shane’s (defensive) pressure kind of changed the game for us.”
That’s what the C’s need out of Larkin: game-changing defense. He provided that Wednesday night, and those 14 points, three rebounds and two assists? They were just cherries on top of the cake.
Box Score Nuggets
- Nine players in the game scored in double-figures, led by Gary Harris' career-high 36 points.
- Kyrie Irving scored 33 points of his own, on six fewer shot attempts than Harris needed.
- Jaylen Brown, with 26 points, fell one point shy of tying his career high in the scoring column.
- Both teams shot at least 49.5 percent from the field.
- Denver's starters accounted for 104 of the team's 118 points despite playing for the third time in four nights.
- Jamal Murray, who scored 28 points, also tied Kenneth Faried for the game high in the rebounding department with 10 boards.
- Denver outscored Boston 58-48 in the paint.
- Aron Baynes scored 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting, and he also led Boston with six rebounds.
- Every player - all 18 of them - who appeared in the game grabbed at least one rebound despite there being only 78 total rebounds in the game.
- Four Celtics (Brown, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye and Shane Larkin) each grabbed two steals.
- Smart led the game with nine assists.
- Larkin led all reserves with 14 points, falling just two points shy of Denver's entire bench totaled.
Quote of the Night
We had some laughs in retrospect about that - retrospects... how about that? That's pretty good.
Brad Stevens uses some play-on words while discussing Jaylen Brown's return to wearing contacts in place of prescription goggles/glasses.