The Boston Celtics come into tonight’s game looking for their seventh straight victory as they take on the red hot Denver Nuggets who have a nine game winning streak of their own. The Celtics will have their hands full on defense; having the task of stopping Andre Iguodala and Danillo Gallinari who both can go off at any time. Boston’s defense has been great throughout the last six games, but tonight is the true test of how well they can play. Denver is also the only team that Boston has faced in the last two weeks that is healthy and on a roll. If there is a game where we find out if the Celtics can win a big game without Rajon Rondo, it would be tonight.
Like they’ve done since Rondo’s season ended, the Celtics have to play with an up-tempo offense. That style of play has been effective and the main component in winning games. But to play a fast break offense, Boston’s defense must step up, and more than they have in the previous six games. Ty Lawson is a dangerous guard, and both Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley will have to be at the top of their games.
The Celtics will also have to box out exceptionally well if they want to win. Denver has size, and a lot of it. Kenneth Faried is very active on the glass and will be someone to watch for throughout the game. Boston cannot afford to allow second chance opportunities, which they did a great job against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. Foul trouble will be something that Boston must stay clear of. On Thursday, Kevin Garnett, Chris Wilcox, and Jason Collins all had two fouls in the first quarter alone. With Denver’s front line being healthy, it would be a major blow for the Celtics to find themselves in the same position.
The bench has to step up tonight and is my key to a Celtics victory. Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa have played very well in Rondo’s absence, and will be relied heavily upon from here on out. Tonight will be no different. The Nuggets are a very deep team, and Boston must match them stride for stride. This is the first test for the Celtics, but the way they’ve played recently, it doesn’t seem like it matters who they’re playing. If Boston continues to play with the style of offense that’s won them six straight games, they’ll come away with the victory.