Nuggets Want to Prove they Can Play with Contending Celtics
The Denver Nuggets will be trying to extend a winning streak on Monday when they take on the Boston Celtics at Pepsi Center. Denver is wanting to prove they can contend and play with the big boys in both conferences. Tonight will be a good test against one of the top teams in the East.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, Altitude (Denver).
Line: Nuggets -2; O/U: 209.
The Nuggets are cruising along in the early going. They showed what they are capable of when they put their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter in a 103-88 win over Utah on Saturday. They easily pulled away.
Denver outscored the Jazz 35-15 in the fourth quarter on Saturday. It continues the team's best start since 1976.
Coach Michael Malone insists his squad is just doing the little things right.
"We're third in defensive efficiency," Malone told reporters. "Our turnovers are way down, and we're the best rebounding team in the NBA. And those are things, I don't care if the league is 3-point shooting or not, when you defend and when you take care of it and you rebound, you're going to give yourself a chance every night."
The Celtics had a four-game winning streak come to an end with a 102-101 loss at Indiana on Saturday. All-Star center Al Horford is using it as a learning experience.
"Games like this will help us learn to value possessions," Horford told reporters. "There were times I'm not even focused on offense, I'm thinking defensively we need to get stops. ... We have to be better in that regard. Some of these games early in the season that have worked in our favor but we're living on the edge a little too much. Maybe this will wake us up as a group and understand that we need to be better."
The Celtics are 6-3 on the season and continue to get better each and every game they play. Losses like Saturday only build character and the team knows it.
PF Marcus Morris is 18-of-29 from 3-point range over the last five contests.
Boston point guard Kyrie Irving scored 18 points in Saturday's setback. He missed a key layup attempt in the final seconds and put the loss on his own shoulders.
"Great play call by Coach Stevens and I just smoked the layup," Irving told reporters. "It was just my body position. That was fully my responsibility to get open and to finish that shot. I rushed it. I got my left hand on the backboard and instead of finishing the play, I just put too much whatever on it and it just shorted. This one was my responsibility. I should have put us up four with that layup."
Irving knocked down 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in the loss and is 15-of-27 over the last four contests. He has been playing well for the Celtics.
The Nuggets are 8-1 to start the season. They are playing with an intensity no one expected at this point from them.
Center Nikola Jokic scored seven points on 3-of-9 shooting on Saturday. He still managed a double-double with 16 assists and 10 rebounds.
"I think it speaks to his greatness," Malone told reporters of Jokic. "Some guys can impact the game with solely their scoring and their ability to score baskets. Nikola can dominate a game without scoring at all and not many guys can do that."
Jokic is 17-of-42 from the floor over the last four games, but is averaging 9.5 assists in that span. All of them wins.
PF Paul Millsap is shooting 59.1 percent from the floor during the four-game winning streak.
PREDICTION: Celtics 110, Nuggets 107
NBA Betting Odds & Trends
|Boston is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Boston's last 7 games|
|Boston is 2-7 ATS in its last 9 games on the road|
|Boston is 4-12 SU in its last 16 games on the road|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boston's last 5 games on the road|
|Boston is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Denver|
|Boston is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing Denver|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Boston's last 5 games when playing Denver|
|Boston is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Denver|
|Boston is 4-10 SU in its last 14 games when playing on the road against Denver|
|Denver is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games|
|Denver is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Denver's last 5 games|
|Denver is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home|
|Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home|
|The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Denver's last 8 games at home|
|Denver is 4-7-1 ATS in its last 12 games when playing Boston|
|Denver is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games when playing Boston|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Denver's last 5 games when playing Boston|
|Denver is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Boston|
|Denver is 10-4 SU in its last 14 games when playing at home against Boston|
Boston at Phoenix Thursday, November 8
Denver at Memphis Wednesday, November 7
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