Keys to the Game: Celtics 108, Nuggets 102

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Black History Month - Celtics x New Balance

Key Moment

Boston and Denver went back and forth all night Friday at TD Garden. Neither team could pull away from the other for good – that is until the final two minutes of the game, when Boston took control to log its seventh straight victory.

The Celtics rattled off six straight points from the 1:59 mark to the 40.7 mark to pull ahead 104-97. They outscored Denver 10-5 overall during the final two minutes of play to close out a 108-102 win.

The high majority of that work was done from the free-throw line, where the C’s shot a perfect 8-for-8 in the clutch. Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum each made four of those freebies. The other two points were scored by newcomer Derrick White on a cutting layup that was assisted by Jaylen Brown.

Boston’s dominant defense deserves a lot of credit. After allowing 60 points during the first half, the C’s buckled down during the second half and allowed only 42 over the final 24 minutes. Only five of those points were scored during the final two minutes, and the final two were only scored because the game’s result had essentially been decided. The Celtics limited Denver to 2-for-6 shooting from the field during the final two minutes, including a 1-for-5 effort before they allowed that final basket to be scored with no contest.

Key Player

Derrick White was pretty darn good during his first game with the Boston Celtics, wasn’t he?

White, who was officially acquired from the San Antonio Spurs at about 11 p.m. Thursday night, joined the Celtics for his first game Friday night against the Denver Nuggets. All he did was come off of Boston’s bench to lead all reserves in both scoring (15 points) and rebounding (six boards), while leading the entire game in plus/minus rating at plus-11.

White shot an efficient 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also added in two assists during his 28-plus minutes of action.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston's starters combined to grab 12 steals, including a game-high five from Marcus Smart.
  • Five Celtics scored between 12 and 24 points, led by Jayson Tatum's 24.
  • Marcus Smart made and attempted more free throws than any player in the game. He shot 8-for-10 from the stripe.
  • Robert Williams grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
  • Robert Williams and Al Horford tied for the game high in blocks with three apiece. Their six combined blocks tied Denver's team total.
  • Nikola Jokic logged a triple-double with 23 points, 16 rebounds and a game-high 11 assists. He almost logged a dubious quadruple-double, as he also committed a game-high nine turnovers.
  • Boston won despite shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and 27.0 percent from long range.
  • Smart stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals.
  • Boston's 22 made free throws were four more than Denver's team attempted.
  • The Celtics committed only 12 turnovers while forcing the Nuggets into 21.

Quote of the Night

Robert Williams on defending Nikola Jokic