The last time these two met, it resulted in a triple-overtime thriller, which Boston ultimately won.
While it may not have the allure of the TD Garden, the Pepsi Center is a very difficult place to play.
That is why the first key is for the Celtics to maintain their composure. Even if things turn sour and the fans are making their presence felt, if this veteran team remains calm, it can regain momentum and maybe even pull out an impressive win, to start this difficult road trip.
The second key is defense. Denver is third in the league in points per game, averaging 105.1. In Boston, Ty Lawson had a game-high 29 points and proved to fast for even Avery Bradley to cover.
When Lawson gets by Bradley, or whoever may be guarding him, the big’s must step up to cut off his drive to the basket or contest his shot. This means guys must rotate to cover Denver’s big men, as well as any other open players. This requires constant communication, a characteristic that the great defenses posses. In such a hostile environment, guys will have to be particularly loud.
Tonight’s third key is offensive efficiency. It is well document that the key to the Celtics post-Rondo success has been ball movement. This must continue for Boston to have a successful road trip and truly turn heads around the league.
Work the shot clock, space the floor and stay active without the basketball; if utilized, these tools can lead to exploiting the NBA’s 26th ranked defense in points allowed per game (101.5).
Tonight’s final key is keeping the Nuggets off the boards. Denver is the second best rebounding team in the league, averaging 45.5 per contest.
Preventing the likes of Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee off the glass is no easy task, but it must be done. These two are athletic and persistent. Boston has got to play physical, getting a body on them early and maintaining a high level of effort to keep them from getting the rebound until the Celtics have corralled the board. This also means the wings will have to step up in grabbing the rebound, while the big men are occupied containing Denver’s rebounding threats.