C’s Bounce Back with Season-High Effort vs Denver

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics responded to Monday’s season-low, 85-point effort against the Chicago Bulls in the best possible manner Wednesday night – by dropping a season-high point total on the Denver Nuggets with a 124-118 win at TD Garden.

The Celtics looked like a completely different team than the one that was blown out by the Bulls at United Center. The reasoning behind the turnaround was simple, according to C’s center Aron Baynes.

“We just made shots,” the Australian big man said with a hearty chuckle after the game. “We missed a few shots last game, some easy ones. That’s what I saw when I was watching the film. It wasn’t so much we weren’t getting the right shots; we were just missing them a lot of the time. But tonight we were making a little bit more aggressive plays and I think we had a little bit more pace in our offense, as well.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday’s effort was “probably one of our better shot-selection games” of the season. And the statistics back that claim up; Boston shot a season-best 59.5 percent from the field, after shooting just 39.8 percent two nights prior against the Bulls. Impressively, the C’s were able to be that efficient without their top percentage shooter, Al Horford, who was given the night off to rest.

The key to Boston’s strong shot selection was based off of how it opened up the game on the offensive end. The Celtics were making an abundance of inside buckets early on, thanks to Baynes (17 points), Kyrie Irving (33 points) and Jaylen Brown (26 points). Their inside baskets allowed things to open up on the perimeter later in the game, which the C’s took advantage of by shooting 11-of-25 (44 percent) from 3-point range.

“Our guys distributed well, and we spaced and cut well,” said Stevens. “I thought we played with good purpose and good authority on offense.”

It was exactly the type of effort they were looking for, following Monday’s embarrassing, 23-point loss in Chicago.

“I just don’t think we took [the Bulls] game as seriously as we needed to,” said point guard Shane Larkin, who scored 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting effort from the field against the Nuggets. “Coach has said it multiple times, ‘It’s about how you respond to something like that.’ We had to show tonight that, even though we didn’t play well last game, we’re going to come back together and just be who we’ve been all season.”

All season long, Boston has proven to be a resilient team that can bounce back from any type of obstacle. As evidence, the C’s have not experienced a losing streak since dropping their first two games of the season.

That ability to respond is what Irving believes makes this group special.

“[We’re] able to play without letting the same emotions or same thoughts from the last game carry over to the next one, and we just move on regardless of how anyone played individually,” said Irving. “That’s the essence of being on a team and being able to just be resilient and just not let anything else matter other than the moment that you’re in.”

Fortunately, just about every player on the Celtics roster has that mindset. Having such a collective mentality is critical when attempting to bounce back from games such as Monday’s debacle.

“One thing we’re lucky about in the NBA [is that] we’re always playing new games,” said Baynes. “So you’ve gotta have a short memory, and that’s something that we’ve been able to do.

“But we’ve gotta put the right effort out there every single time,” the big man added. “We didn’t do that [in Chicago] and it hurt us. It’s one of those things where we don’t want to have to learn from that mistake too often. I think that one time should be enough and we should be able to go out there and bring the right energy from start to finish for the rest of the season. There’s going to be some lulls, but we want to go out there and put our best foot forward.”

The Celtics were able to do just that Wednesday night, as they put Monday’s season-low offensive performance in the rearview mirror by responding with their highest-scoring effort of the campaign.