The Celtics Ran Into a Buzz Saw Named Murray in Denver

DENVER – It happens. It’s as simple as that.

Sometimes in the NBA, you just run into a buzz saw, and that’s what happened Monday night when the Celtics ran into Jamal Murray.

Murray constructed a masterful performance that sent Boston to an 0-2 start on its five-game road trip. The third-year guard sliced, diced and chopped the Celtics up in every which way as he tallied a career-best 48 points during a 115-107 Denver win. That total marks the fifth-most scored by any player in the league this season.

Boston had no answers for Murray, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. As Brad Stevens explained after the game, the C’s basically threw the kitchen sink at Murray to no avail.

“We tried a lot of different guys, a lot of different coverages, we tried to go small and switch, tried to do a lot of different things,” Stevens said, “and he pretty much cooked us all night. He had a heck of a game.”

You can say that again.

Murray got hot early and his hand never cooled off. He scored 14 points during the first quarter, nine during the second quarter, six during the third quarter, and 19 during the fourth quarter.

Following the impressive performance, the Celtics felt regret for letting Murray become comfortable in the first place.

“I thought he got a couple of easy ones that made him feel good right out of the gate,” commented Stevens. “He had been struggling shooting the 3 coming into this game, at least versus his level, and we left him early and he had that 10-point run in the first half when we were really scoring the ball. And from that point on he was just lights-out.”

That happens in this league. The NBA is a collection of the best basketball talent in the entire world. So many players are capable of going off, and that’s why the league has already had 11 performances of 40 or more points already during the first three weeks of the season.

Tonight, the hot hand just happened to be strapped to the arm of Murray.

“It’s the NBA,” Jaylen Brown said calmly after Murray’s performance. “When somebody catches fire, it’s hard to put that fire out.”

Boston now heads to Phoenix with an 0-2 record in tow on this season-long, five-game road trip. As frustrating as that record may be, it’s not as if the Celtics have played poor basketball on this trip. They’ve just run into two of the hottest teams in the league thus far in the season that were a few points better on two particular nights.

In Indiana, they took on a Pacers team that had won four out of five heading into their matchup. The two teams went toe-to-toe until the final seconds, when Victor Oladipo connected on a back-breaking and game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left.

Monday night in Denver, Boston met a Nuggets team that had racked up the second-best record in the league heading into tip-off, at 8-1. Then one of their up-and-coming stars, Murray, turned into an unstoppable force.

These things happen.

Teams hit game-winners. Players catch fire and can’t be put out.

This is the NBA.