Celtics Planning To Exact Revenge on Murray Tonight in Denver
DENVER - Brad Stevens preaches to his team to have a short memory – to concentrate on today. Well, the Celtics are concentrating on today, but a memory from slightly more than a year ago is also burning inside of them.
The jarring memory was planted into the minds of Boston’s holdovers from last season on Nov. 5, 2018. The Celtics were in Denver for a showdown with the Nuggets, as they are today, and Jamal Murray torched them for a career-high 48 points.
The point total was upsetting enough to Boston’s prideful perimeter defenders, but what pushed the circumstances over the top was Murray’s on-court antics, which featured a last-second shot from beyond the arc – with Denver’s victory already sealed – in an attempt to break the 50-point barrier.
“The game is over,” Jaylen Brown said that night. “Dude had a hell of a night. I felt like it was a little disrespectful.”
That feeling of disrespect does not appear to have waned over the last 54 weeks.
Shortly after Brown sat down at his locker Friday morning at the Pepsi Center ahead of Boston’s shootaround, he discussed the lingering memory of that night.
“For sure, I remember stuff like that, for sure,” he said. “He wasn’t necessarily my matchup last time we played him, but still, when a guy scores 50 points or whatever, that’s something you remember.”
When questioned about the same topic, Marcus Smart, who will be one of Murray’s primary defenders tonight, said the following after letting loose an irritated laugh.
“We all know how we feel about that,” Smart replied. “It’ll be a good game. That’s all I gotta say.”
It remains quite clear that Smart, Brown and the rest of the holdovers from last season’s roster are still bothered by Murray’s point total and his last-second shot attempt. However, as Brown commented, he and the Celtics can’t let that memory take them off track from their ultimate goal.
“We want to come out and make sure we get the win first,” he said. “Don’t make any personal battles bigger than what the objective is, but also we want him to feel us.”
To that end, Brown believes that he and the Celtics are in a far better position to slow down a player like Murray. Boston ranks sixth in the league in defensive rating this season – the exact same rank it did last season – yet in Brown’s mind, this defense is far more dangerous.
“I think defensively, we’re a different team than we were last year,” he said.
Pressed to explain how the C’s defense is different, he added, “I think we’re more connected. We’re more resilient. I think if somebody scores a basket, we don’t drop our head or anything.”
A big part of that defensive mentality comes from Smart, whom Brown called “an animal” Friday morning. Smart expounded on that animal-like mindset, and how it will apply to tonight’s matchup with Murray and the Nuggets.
“The way I think, it’s like we’re in the jungle,” he said. “When a lion is ready to own his territory or take over his territory, he comes right at you full-throttle, and nine times out of 10 you don’t escape those attacks.”
He continued, “With me, it’s that mentality, that when it’s time for me to own my territory, it’s time to take over somebody else’s territory, I pounce and I attack, and there’s no looking back on that.”
Smart and the Celtics will be ready to pounce once the ball is tossed up tonight. They’re concentrating on today, while vividly remembering what happened here in Denver more than a year ago.