In Battles Between NBA’s Best, Celtics Losses to Nuggets Feature Common Theme

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In Battles Between NBA’s Best, Celtics Losses to Nuggets Feature Common Theme:The Celtics lost to the Nuggets 115–109, even though Jaylen Brown scored 41 points. They lost because they missed free throws and lost in the paint.

The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets played a possible preview game for the NBA Finals on Thursday. Both teams came out strong.

Derrick White slid in front of Jamal Murray to steal the ball in the backcourt and then threw a moonball of a pass to Jaylen Brown for an alley-oop. Brown, who is from Colorado, then blocked Reggie Jackson’s layup try.

But Nikola Jokic scored seven points for the reigning champions, who were ahead 30–28 after the first quarter. On two occasions, he threw Kristaps Porzingis to the ground, spun, and slammed the ball home with both hands, which showed how rough the first 12 minutes were.

Even though Jayson Tatum scored eight points in the first quarter and Brown scored the same number as Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray’s game-winning three over two players was better than their work.

Also See: ‘So Be It’: Jayson Tatum’s Focus Was Never MVP Case That’s Likely Closed

In Battles Between NBA’s Best, Celtics Losses to Nuggets Feature Common Theme

  • In the paint, both teams scored 16 points. Also, in the first half, they only let two turnovers happen. The away team kept Denver off the offensive glass and didn’t let Denver get any second chances.
  • The worst thing that happened in the first frame might have been when Brown got a technical foul for clapping about Tony Brothers’s lack of a foul call after scoring over Aaron Gordon. He didn’t swear or show up. This author thought it wasn’t important.
  • It didn’t change how angry the three-time All-Star was playing because of the technical foul. The passion of this match was shown by how he was acting.
  • In the last game between these two teams, Brown scored 13 points. He kept going to the basket and scored 15 points in the second quarter, giving him a game-high 22 points at halftime. Besides that, he grabbed eight boards, six of which were used to score.
  • The Celtics only made 1/5 of their three-point shots in the second quarter and 4/16 in the first 24 minutes. And while the home team kept the ball in the first half, they gave it away five times in the second.
  • They also had to deal with Murray using the energy from his buzzer-beating shot to get into a rhythm early in the second frame. This made it impossible for the Celtics to catch up, even though Jokic was sitting on the bench.
  • The two-time league MVP scored 13 points when he came back, with five of them coming from free throws. Xavier Tillman and Kristaps Porzingis both had chances to keep him from the cup in the first and second quarters, but he showed off his feathery touch by scoring from farther away than he had planned.
  • After a fight with Jokic in the low post, Porzingis even got a technical foul.

The Nuggets also made ten free throws in the second quarter and were 14/14 at halftime. Between that and Boston’s seven mistakes and the home team’s 11–4 lead in fast-break points, the Celtics had a lot to clean up after the break. They also needed to get back into the swing of things from three-point range.

Jokic’s buzzer-beating basket at halftime made Denver’s lead 62–54 going into the third quarter.According to Dick Lipe of NBC Sports Boston, the star centre had 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists in the first 24 minutes. Brown had 22 points and eight rebounds. These two players, along with Joel Embiid, are the only ones this season to have at least 20 points and six rebounds in a first half. That wasn’t done by anyone in the 2022–23 season.

But after halftime, it was good news for the tourists when Porzingis made back-to-back threes, first working with Tatum and then with Brown. The seven-foot-three centre made the shots with more arc than in the first half.

In Battles Between NBA's Best, Celtics Losses to Nuggets Feature Common Theme
In Battles Between NBA’s Best, Celtics Losses to Nuggets Feature Common Theme

When Nuggets missed, Brown made a layup without being challenged, making the run 8-0. This tied the game at 62.

The defending champs came back with a 6-0 run. And because the visitors couldn’t put together stops and kept giving up clean looks, the hosts built up a 90–80 lead going into the last frame. Through 36 minutes, the ten-point lead was their biggest of the night.

The visitors were still having a hard time stopping drives and keeping the ball out of the hands of the defence. But with 8:04 left, a 5-0 run that included a three-pointer by Brown from the right wing and an outlet pass to Jrue Holiday for a layup brought them within six points, 97-91.

Before that, Brown, who played hard but only made 6 of 13 free throws, got a steal in the backcourt, slammed into a defender on the way to the basket, thinking he’d either score or get another chance at the line. It was one of the most admirable plays of the game.

Neither of those things happened, but many players would have passed up the chance if they were having trouble making free throws. There are also many people who wouldn’t have tried to steal.

  • As Jokic worked to help out in the middle of the court, it looked like the home team would easily win the two-game regular season series. This was because Boston had trouble blocking drives and sticking with cutters who were not on the ball.
  • But after Jokic got a technical for fighting about why there wasn’t a foul call, the officials did the right thing and let the next play happen. Brown made a transition layup through contact. The guests were only seven points behind, 105–98, with 4:16 left after he and Tatum made free throws.
  • The Celtics then went on an 11-4 run, with Holiday hitting back-to-back threes. With 1:08 left in the game, the score was 111–109 and Celtics fans at Ball Arena were loud.
  • With 45 seconds left, Tatum had a good chance to give Boston the lead with a three-pointer from the right corner, but the shot missed the mark. Jokic then threw another pass to Aaron Gordon, who scored to give Denver some breathing room.
  • From there, they put the finishing touches on a games that was as intense and physical as a playoff game, ending 115–109 in favour of the East. We hope that this isn’t the last time they play each other in the 2023–24 season.
  • After this game, the Celtics will play the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. At the Footprint Centre, that game will start at 8:30 EST.

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