Denver at Boston
7 P.M. ET
Boston: 107.1 points/100 possessions (t-6th)
Denver: 107.1 points/100 possessions (t-6th)
Boston: 97.4 points allowed/100 possessions (t-2nd)
Denver: 103.6 points allowed/100 possessions (14th)
UPDATE: Carmelo Anthony will miss tonight’s contest with an inflammed right knee. On the Celtic side, all day-to-day players will be in uniform with Rondo, Shaq, Big Baby and Nate Robinson all making their returns after missing practice yesterday.
Probable Denver Starters: Chauncey Billups (PG), Arron Afflalo (SG), Carmelo Anthony (SF), Shelden Williams (PF), Maybyner Rodney Hilario (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Roundball Mining Company
You should have been hoping for George Karl to win his 1000th game last night. Then you wouldn’t have to root against him tonight in Boston, because rooting against George Karl makes you a bad person.
But you didn’t hope hard enough, and the Nuggets lost to the Bobcats last night. So the former ABA player brings his former ABA team to the Garden tonight in hopes to to join the club. Karl is a very smart, very awesome guy and being the 7th coach to get 1,000 wins is a big deal. Only 25 coaches have 1,000 games, and Red Auerbach himself didn’t win that many. But here’s hoping Karl gets number 1,000 somewhere else.
WHAT THE NUGGETS DO WELL
Get to the line. Denver leads the league in free throws per field goal attempt. Birdman Andersen shot 22 free throws on only 12 shot attempts in the five games after he came back from injury and before he got injured again. They’re like a team of Corey Maggetes. They’re also first in the league in And-1s and second in the percentange of their shots they get blocked. See the connection here? The Denver Nuggets…
Attempt shots at the rim. Like the Celtics, the Nuggets focus their offensive attack on getting to the basket. First in the league, with 27.5 attempts to the C’s second-place 25.8. The Nugs are last in the league, meanwhile, in midrange shots attempted.
The Celtic defensive gameplan usually involves keeping opponents away from the three-ball and the rim, so it’ll be fun to see who wins out here.
(By the way, remember when the Celtics were an inside-out team? They’re now inside-even-further-inside: first in attempts at the rim, last in attempts from three. That’s the price of leading the league in FG percentage, I guess).
But why, if the Nuggets take more shots at the basket, don’t they lead the league in FG% instead of the Celtics?
WHAT THE NUGGETS DO POORLY
Convert shots at the rim. Unlike the Celtics, who finish 70% of their at-rim attempts, the Nuggets only get points on 59%, sixth-worst in the league.
The guy to blame here is, curiously enough, Carmelo Anthony. He puts up a team-leading 6.5 shots at the rim every game, and only drops about half of them. That’s by far the lowest rate of his career, and way below the league average of 62.9%. HE MUST BE MISSING LAYUPS ON PURPOSE TO TRY AND GET TRADED! Somebody alert the Denver Post immediately.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY
Chauncey Billups. As we’ve discussed, Rondo has trouble defending against big post-up guards. Use your powers of scientific reasoning to imagine what that means for Nate Robinson, and ask whatever god you pray to not to make this a reality.
Nene. The Brazilian Bulk is quietly having an almost-All-Star-starter-caliber year in a weak year for West centers. Unlike the rest of his team, he’s converting 77% of his shots at the rim, and he’s got a decent hit rate on his jumpers, too. He also gets free throws and hit the only three he attempted this year. But Yao will win the vote like he does every year, exacting sweet revenge on Nene for when he pulled Yao’s shirt up two years ago.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Carmelo Anthony. I know he tore up Pierce in the two games they played last year. But the guy is shooting 36% over his last eleven games, and 30% over his last four since he left a game last week with the flu. He was 8-21 last night and barely drove. Your body is telling you to rest, Melo. Head to the nurse’s office and she’ll call your mom at work to come get you.
Shelden Williams. Even in a new city, he still tweets like a Shelden.
Yes, it was Angry Birds.
Gary Forbes. Even though he’s a Minuteman. He also played for one of the greatest team names in the history of the Phillippine Basketball Association: the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, formerly known as the Pepsi Bottlers.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE
The Nuggets present potential matchup challenges at pretty much every spot on the floor on offense (except, you know, starting power forward). We want to see the Celtics deny them at the rim without getting into foul trouble and having to resort to the non-existent bench. We want to see Rondo play tonight to prevent a Nate-ocalypse, then take tomorrow night’s game in Philly off. And we want to see George Karl get a standing O in Toronto on Friday.
Unfortunately, I think Billups and the depth issues stymie the C’s here, especially if Rondo’s minutes are limited. Nuggets 105, C’s 101.