Denver Nuggets 2019 Summer League: Three takeaways from loss vs. Celtics

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

In a defensive battle, the Denver Nuggets fell to the Boston Celtics 95-82 Tuesday in NBA Summer League action. Turnovers played a key role in the loss, as Denver struggled to consistently maintain control of the ball. The Celtics capitalized with Carsen Edwards leading a balanced scoring attack with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

"When you don't have your mind in it, you really struggle," Nuggets Summer League head coach Jordi Fernandez said. "We played really hard and found something in the third, but then we stopped. Now we have to watch film and understand that we can't lose three of four quarters. But this is a learning process."

Both teams were locked in defensively in the first quarter, as the Celtics (3-0) jumped out to a 16-12 lead after one. Turnovers plagued the Nuggets (1-1) early, as they coughed the ball up five times. Denver also connected on just 25 percent of its shots in the quarter. However, the Nuggets also limited Boston to 30 percent shooting in the quarter, which allowed them to stay in the game.

The Nuggets went on a 5-0 run during the middle stages of the second quarter to tie the game at 23. Brandon Goodwin led the run by drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt and by driving to the basket, which opened up other opportunities for his teammates. Goodwin finished the quarter with 10 points and two assists, but the Celtics took a 42-35 lead into the half. Boston knocked down three 3-pointers towards the end of the quarter to extend the lead.

The pace of the game picked up to start the third quarter as both teams looked to run in transition. The Nuggets slowly chipped away at Boston’s lead, pulling to within four at the midway point of the quarter. Jarred Vanderbilt knocked down a 3-pointer to spur the run, which marked the first 3-pointer he has made since high school. After chipping away at the lead for the majority of the quarter, the Nuggets were able to take a 62-61 into the final frame.

Boston opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 71-62 lead. Denver struggled to maintain control of the ball, as two turnovers led to transition scoring opportunities for the Celtics. Despite their best efforts, the Nuggets weren’t able to cut into the deficit throughout the quarter, as Boston maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the final period.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1) Goodwin impresses as lead guard

After a strong performance in Denver’s first game, Goodwin followed it up with a 28-point performance Tuesday. Goodwin was relied on to create consistent offense for himself and teammates, with his ability to knock down 3-pointers and drive to the rim helping him do so.

"I was just trying to stay aggressive," Goodwin said. "I was trying to find the balance between getting my teammates involved while also scoring."

2) Jordan Davis provides a much-needed spark

After Goodwin took a charge against Boston’s Tacko Fall and had to briefly leave the game, Jordan Davis stepped up in the third quarter with seven points to help Denver take the lead into the fourth quarter. Given Denver’s reliance on Goodwin to create offense, the University of Northern Colorado product and Las Vegas native was able to step in and produce when the Nuggets needed it most. Davis finished with 10 points in the loss.

"I think I showed that I can play a role," Davis said. "I can guard 94 feet, I can do the things that people don't want to do like take charges, go upstairs with big guys. Then I can play a role offensively, whether that's attacking and making plays for others or catch-and-shoot situations, I'm able to play my role."

3) Turnovers plague Denver’s offense

In a game that turned into a back-and-forth battle in the third quarter, the Nuggets’ struggles with taking care of the ball reared its ugly head at key moments. As mentioned earlier, Boston capitalized on several turnovers from the Nuggets to start the fourth quarter, after using their defense to get off to an early lead in the first quarter. As Denver continues Summer League play, taking care of each possession and generating quality offense on a consistent basis will be key. In the end, the Nuggets finished with 18 turnovers in the loss.

The Nuggets wrap-up their preliminary games of 2019 Summer League against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday. The game will tip-off at 9:30 p.m. MT.

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