Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Here are some words I never thought would be written on Denver Stiffs: the Nuggets are a defensive team. Nine games in and Denver ranks third in the league in defensive rating and has already held opponents to under 100 points five times this year. Though they are far from perfect on the defensive end of the floor, the legitimacy of the sample size is growing day by day. Boston, however, is notorious for being a top-notch defensive team and currently ranks first in that category.
Fortunately for Denver, the Celtics are somehow a bottom five team offensively so far this season. This can’t be the game where Gordon Hayward or Jayson Tatum is allowed to go off, and Kyrie Irving will need to be contained. Denver has managed to succeed at holding off opposing stars for the most part this season. Let’s see if that trend continues.
Will the ball finally pop tonight? It’s almost ironic that Denver’s best start to a season is coming on the backs of the defense when the team is pretty much built to be an offensive juggernaut. Still, we’ve only seen glimpses of the magic that the Nuggets can bring. Nikola Jokic looked like an MVP the first week of the season, and though he is still the focal point for the team he has only been quietly filling up the stat sheet. Jamal Murray is still in his annual-start-the-season-slow mini-slump and is due for a breakout game. Denver is 28th in the league in three-point percentage.
The Celtics have a date with the 8-1 Nuggets in Denver tonight (9pm tip-off). For those who haven’t noticed, Denver is playing really well. Their signature win is Golden State, and they’ve beaten a few good teams like the Clippers, New Orleans (w/o AD), and Utah.
These aren’t the 80s Nuggets. Dan Issel, Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English aren’t running up 140 points. Nope. Despite having talents like Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris, the Nuggets are bringing the D.
Denver has 3 guys in the top 10 defensive rating: Mason Plumlee, Jokic and Paul Milsap. (Yup, Plumlee). Not exactly the recipe for a Celtics team struggling to find its offense.
The Nuggets are 2.5 point favorites with a 57% win probability. This one might be a bloodbath but I still like the Celtics chances coming off a stinging loss to Indiana.
And no, Isaiah Thomas hasn’t seen the court yet for Denver.
On Page 2, the Celtics have a target on them and know it.
Irving was bemused by Pacers fans’ reactions to the win.
“Everywhere we go, it’s like they won a championship game against us,” he said. “The way their fans were celebrating, everybody was celebrating, that’s something I’ve gotten used to over the course of my career, playing teams where it doesn’t matter if they’re on a back-to-back, if they’ve had days of rest.
“They’re going to come at us, as they should. We’ll be ready. We’ll be ready to go right back at them. So just having those moments where we have a few possessions where we’re not as engaged can affect us. But it’ll translate as we go forward.”
This little jab by Kyrie Irving kinda encapsulates the team’s big picture viewpoint early in the season.
That’s all fine and good, just make sure this team doesn’t morph into the 2010 Celtics.
The rest of the links:
There’s nothing new since yesterday. With the beat on Mountain Time, I’m guessing they’re sleeping in.