While Boston enters the game with the second longest win streak (6 games) in the NBA, Denver actually has the longest win streak, with nine games.
Tonight’s first key is limiting transition opportunities. The Nuggets are an athletic team that led by point guard Ty Lawson, love to run the floor. Forcing George Karl’s squad to play a half court game is much more favorable and is an area where the team has struggled.
Denver’s half court offense heavily relies upon Lawson’s ability to get to the hoop and on the good but not great shooting of players such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Close out, get a hand in the shooters face and keep Lawson out of the paint; combined with forcing tonight’s opposition to play half court offense is the recipe for earning a victory.
The second key to this game is rebounding. The Nuggets are second in the league in boards per game, averaging 45.4 per contest. Their big men love to crash the glass and possess an impressive blend of athleticism and physicality.
Keeping Kenneth Faried off the glass could prove to be especially tough. The “Manimal,” is pulling down 9 rebounds per game this season and usually makes team’s pay when he grabs an offensive board.
The Celtics big men will have to play physical throughout the game. They must know where Denver’s frontcourt players are for the duration of each possession; looking to initiate the contact and box out.
The third key is for Boston to be able to utilize its ability in the transition game. A noticeable difference in this team without Rajon Rondo, is that following a miss, players aren’t trying to find Rondo to initiate the offense. Instead, players are simply running the floor and the ball is moving much faster. The Celtics are filled with more-than capable ball handlers and allowing each one to showcase his abilities in the open court is one of the most effective ways for Doc Rivers’ team to generate scoring.