The Boston Celtics will attempt to extend a four-game winning streak when they visit the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night in the first game on the 2023 calendar for each team.
Boston ended 2022 with a seven-game homestand in which it dropped the first three games — two to Orlando and one to Indiana — and then won the next four. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla missed the last two games with corneal abrasions. Damon Stoudamire filled in during Mazzulla’s absence.
“I think we just regrouped,” Stoudamire said when he was asked about the four-game winning streak following Thursday night’s 116-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. “I think losing those three games in a row — it was more so humbling and I think that we knew we had to have better performances in the next four games, especially with us going on the road (after the Clippers game). So the guys responded.”
Despite committing 20 turnovers, Denver rallied to defeat the Miami Heat 124-119 at home Friday night.
The Nuggets were down by five entering the fourth quarter and trailed 117-115 with two minutes to play. Denver’s Nikola Jokic recorded his eighth triple-double of the season in the victory.
“To come back and get a win against that team is definitely a great win,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.
Jokic finished the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. He shot 8 of 15 from the floor and has shot 50 percent or better from the field in his last 26 games.
Denver made 17 of its 28 3-point attempts, a stellar 60.7 percent.
“Just proud of our guys to stick with it tonight,” Malone said. “Every night’s a test. I mean that sincerely.”
Boston guard Marcus Smart said one of the keys for the Celtics during their four-game winning streak has been remaining focused when things weren’t going their way.
“I think that’s more of the team learning continuously each and every day how to play that way,” he said. “It can get frustrating sometimes for us, especially when shots aren’t falling and calls aren’t going your way and the other team feels like they’re on a run, they’ve got the momentum, they’re making shots. It’s easy to let yourself go into those little lulls where you just get down. And for us, we’re just trying to focus on not allowing ourselves to do that this year.”
Sunday’s game will be the second meeting between the Celtics and Nuggets this season. Jayson Tatum had 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists when Boston beat Denver 131-112 on Nov. 11. Boston made 16 3-pointers and shot 55.6 percent from the field in that game. Boston’s Jaylen Brown finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Jokic had 29 points and eight rebounds to lead the Nuggets, which received 17 points and seven rebounds from Aaron Gordon.
“I feel like we’re coming back together in all aspects of the game, not just when our shots are falling,” Celtics center Robert Williams III said. “Obviously we’re helping each other on defense, and (Thursday) was a big game for that help-side. But I just feel like it’s coming back together.”
–Field Level Media