Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
By Patrick Whalen
The Celtics continued their 5 games road trip out west last night with game 2 of the trip against the red-hot Denver Nuggets. This game would not end up going the Celtics way as they would fall to the Nuggets by a score of 115 to 107. The Celtics got off to a hot start for once in the first quarter and led 34-19 at the end of the first. After that, though with the Celtics becoming three-pointer happy again and Jamal Murray doing his best Allen Iverson impersonation the game was all Denver’s.
After leading by 15 after the first quarter, the Celtics lead was cut down to just 2 at the half and by the end of the third, they trailed by 7 points. During the second and third quarters, the Celtics defense disappeared as they were outscored 69-47 by the Nuggets. In the fourth quarter, it was the Jamal Murray show as he scored 19 of his 48 in the fourth quarter (via NBA.com).
The main reason the Celtics loss last night was they went away from what was working early and that was moving the ball and getting to the basket. Just look at this ball movement from the first quarter.
Between that and the defense they had going in the first, you would have thought that the Celtics were gonna win by double figures and dominate this game from start to finish. But then the ball movement stopped, the Celtics had 12 assists in just the first quarter but only had 10 the rest of the game. The other main issue the Celtics had after the first quarter is that they started settling for three-pointers instead of being aggressive and driving to the basket. The Celtics shot 4-7 from three in the first but shot 5-24 from downtown the rest of the night including an abysmal 2-11 in the fourth quarter as they started chucking up threes late to make some comeback attempt (Basketball-Reference.com).
Jamal Murray was also kind of a problem last night as he went off for a career-high 48 points on 19-30 shooting and 5-11 from three-point territory (Basketball-Reference.com). If it were not for Murray getting going early the Nuggets easily could have been down by 20 after the first quarter but he kept them somewhat in it. Then when it came down to crunch time in the fourth Murray just couldn’t miss putting up 19 of Denver’s 27 fourth-quarter points. He almost put up 50 as he chucked up a three while dribbling out the clock but it rimmed out and that move did not sit well with the one bright spot of the Celtics, Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie offensively was the one man who could have tried to go head to head with Murray last night as he had 31 points on 13-17 shooting and 4-6 from three. He also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Down the stretch, late Kyrie did his best to try and will the Celtics back into the win column but Murray just outmatched him. Kryie’s, to quote Dan Greenberg, “fuck you three”, early in the fourth to cut the lead to 1 looked like it could have jump-started the Celtics but Kyrie was the only person who could shoot last night.
Tatum had a rough 5-14 shooting night last night and then bench was abysmal as Smart Rozier and Morris shot a combined 8-23 from the field and 3-12 from three (Basketball-Reference.com).
There was also some drama post game after Kyrie grabbed the rebound of Murray’s late three to try and get 50 and whipped the ball into the crowd. Kyrie called it a “bullshit move”, by Murray as he threw it up while dribbling the clock out. This matchup will be interesting the next time they meet to see if Kyrie and the Celts will still hold that anger at Murray when they pay the Garden as a visit on March 18th. On the bright side Murray did get me a solid 41 fantasy points last night so at least hes still helping me out.