The shorthanded Boston Celtics were dominated by the Denver Nuggets in a 123-107 loss, falling to .500 on the season. Denver was clicking on all cylinders through the entire game, and the Celtics had very few answers.
The Nuggets, who have been one of the worst first quarter teams in the young 2016-17 season, were strong out of the gate against Boston. Tough interior play, which included 18 points in the paint and winning the battle of the boards 12 to five, gave Denver the early advantage. Isaiah Thomas tried to answer with aggressive drives to the rim and tallied 10 points, but what really buried the C’s in the opening quarter was Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
Mudiay had the quarter of a lifetime by posting 24 points on a straight silly 9/10 shooting. He has not been a good shooter in his career, yet he matched his season three-point total (three) in the first quarter alone. He himself outscored the whole Celtics team after 12 minutes, 24-23:
Mudiay (24 points) outscored the entire Celtics team (23 points) during the first quarter. Denver leads 42-23 heading into the second.— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 7, 2016
As you may suspect, surrendering this many points is... not particularly good:
Last time #Celtics allowed 40 points in 1st Q at home: 2005— Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam) November 7, 2016
Last time they allowed 42 points in 1st Q at home: 1997
Denver continued getting their way through the second quarter. Wilson Chandler provided 14 points off the bench to keep the scoring torch blazing while Mudiay was getting a breather, but Thomas neutralized any further damage from being done with his constant attack on offense. He had 21 points in the first half, most of which from takes to the hoop such as this one:
IT hangs and hits in the paint pic.twitter.com/TLQFYzD1kl— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 7, 2016
By the intermission, the Celtics had dug themselves a massive hole from their brutally bad defense. 64.4% shooting led to 77 first half points (really wish that was a typo) for Denver:
Well the good news is the Celtics scored 52 pts in the 1st half. Not going to mention that they are down by 25 though.— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) November 7, 2016
Brad Stevens was surely all over the team for their lackluster defense, which perhaps ignited a flame under Boston's starters. They brought a rejuvenated defensive intensity and increased pressure into the second half that led to multiple Denver turnovers and a 8-0 run to cut the Celtics' deficit to 17.
The Nuggets soon caught fire yet again though, knocking down shots and getting in the paint at will. Every time it seemed like Boston had a run in them, Denver fired back and ultimately preserved their twenty-point lead by the end of the quarter:
Denver takes a 103-83 lead into the 4th quarter. Isaiah Thomas leads Boston w/ 27 points. Avery Bradley has 14 points, 6 assists & 6 boards.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 7, 2016
Although the starters came out determined to fight their way back into the game to start the final quarter, it was the same old story. Boston was at the mercy of the Nuggets, as Mudiay and Kenneth Faried powered them home to a 123-107 win. Youngsters Demetrius Jackson, Jordon Mickey, and James Young played solid basketball in their extended forth quarter playing time, posting the only positive plus/minuses on the roster.
By the way, Mickey and Terry Rozier's facial expressions in the background of the featured photo sums up this game perfectly:
Next up for the Celtics are the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Photo by @Celtics Erik Johnson 11/06/2016 10:10:00 PM Tweet Edit