Perkless Celtics take on Anthonyless Nuggets

Boston Celtics (41-14) at Denver Nuggets (33-25)
Thursday, February 24
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #56  Road Game # 26
Radio:  WEEI,  KCKK
Pepsi Center
Referees:  Bob Delaney,  Rodney Mott,  Violet Palmer
The Celtics continue their road trip in Denver taking on a very new look Nuggets team.   The Celtics may be catching them at the right time with their new players just coming in for their first game with the Nuggets.  However, on Tuesday, the Nuggets beat the Grizzlies120-107 with just 8 players so the Celtics definitely can't take them for granted.  

The Celtics have problems of their own with injuries leaving them very thin in the frontcourt.   Perk is out this game after injuring his knee against the Warriors, which will probably put Semih back into the starting lineup since both O'Neals are also still out.  Along with the thin center spot, the Celtics are still without an adequate back up for Paul Pierce at the 3.   The Celtics got a boost with Semih and Delonte's return, but both were obviously very rusty and it will take time for them to get their rhythm back.

The Nuggets should have all their new players ready for action in this game and they will more than likely see playing time but will still be learning the system and the depleted Celtics should be ready to take advantage of any confusion that results from the new players lack of familiarity with their new teammates and the plays.

The Nuggets are tough at home and that could have as much to do with the altitude as it does with their play.  The Celtics will be battling thin air as well as a Nuggets team that is relieved and happy to have the Melo-drama behind them. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo  vs Ty Lawson

Shooting Guard  

Ray Allen  vs Arron Afflalo

Small Forward
Paul Pierce  vs JR Smith

Power Forward

Kevin Garnett  vs  Kenyon Martin


Semih Erden vs Nene Hilario

Boston Bench Mob
Nate Robinson
Glen Davis
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Luke Harangody
Delonte West

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Kendrick Perkins (knee)  out
Shaquille O'Neal (knee) out
Marquis Daniels (spine)  out

Denver's Reserves
Chris Andersen
Wilson Chandler
Melvin Ely
Raymond Felton
Gary Forbes
Danilo Gallinari
Al Harrington
Kosta Koufos
Timofey Mozgov



Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Ty Lawson
With the front line thin, the Celtics will need Rondo to control the tempo and be aggressive with his play.   As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.

Semih Erden vs Nene Hilario
With Perk and the 2 O'Neals out, that leaves Semih as the Celtics only center and he will more than likely get the starting nod with Perk out.  He was somewhat underwhelming in his first game back and the Celtics will need more from him in this game.  Hopefully his second game will see an improvement in his timing and ability to be more aggressive.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs JR Smith
In the past, Smith has had big games vs the Celtics.  In the Nuggets win over the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Smith led the Nuggets with 26 points.  Pierce will need to slow him down as well as to look for his own offense.

Keys to the Game

Defense - I may sound like a broken record, but Defense is the key to every game this season.   If they come into every game with the mindset to make defense a priority, they stand a good chance of winning every one.  When they slack off on defense, it affects every part of their game.

Rebound -   Since much of rebounding is effort and desire, the effort  that the Celtics show on the boards usually indicates how much the team really wants the game.  With the Celtics short on bigs, everyone on the team needs to make rebounding a priority.   The team that wins the battle of the boards usually comes out on top because the effort needed to out rebound the other team carries across all other areas of the game.

Go to the Hoop- The more aggressive team usually gets more calls (except against Golden State) and taking the ball to the hoop usually ends in either a basket or a foul or a kick out to a wide open teammate.  The Celtics can't settle for jumpers, especially on the road.

Play 48 Minutes-  The Celtics must come out strong and play hard until the final buzzer.  They can't allow the Nuggets any confidence that they can pull out a win.   With the Celtics as depleted as they are, it would be good to get off to a fast start and then keep the Nuggets down to avoid a close game down the stretch.    

Move the Ball- When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, they are very tough to beat.  They have so many weapons that they always get a good shot.  When the ball movement slows and players try to do too much, it usually ends in a loss. 

Official Report

Bob Delaney
Delaney has officiated over 1,300 regular season games, 120+ play-off games and 7 NBA Finals games. Delaney was formerly a police officer. He worked under cover in an investigation of New Jersey organized crime and helped to bring a portion of the mob in that state down. While serving as a police officer, Delaney was also a high school basketball referee in New Jersey from 1972 to 1982 and later officiated in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for four years before being selected by scouts to officiate in the NBA, beginning in 1987. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Delaney officiating and are 2-3 so far this season. The Nuggets are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Delaney. If you recall, it was Bob Delaney that Shaq was fined for calling out after the Celtics Christmas Day loss in Orlando. His home W/L record this season is 26-17.

Thin Air and Injuries
The Celtics will be playing at a higher altitude than they are used to, while the Nuggets (other than the new players just coming in) are used to it.  Hopefully it won't affect the Celtics too much.  Injuries will also be a factor.  The Celtics will have to overcome a very thin front line in order to win this game.