It was only one sport in January, but it surely felt like a lot extra.
Solely time will inform whether or not the Celtics and Nuggets meet within the NBA Finals, but when Friday’s matchup is any indication, a sequence in June may very well be one for the ages.
Boston and Denver flaunted their firepower at TD Backyard earlier than the Nuggets escaped with a 102-100 win. Jayson Tatum had an opportunity within the ultimate seconds however missed an off-balance fadeaway, sealing Boston’s destiny.
Derrick White paced the Celtics with 24, Tatum added 22 and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 21. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic fueled the Nuggets with 35 and 34, respectively.
The Celtics at the moment are 20-1 at house, after scoring simply 39 factors within the second half. There might be no 41-0 slate in spite of everything.
Porzingis got here out firing and scored 15 of the Celtics’ first 20 factors, however Jokic rapidly responded en path to a 15-point quarter of his personal. The Celtics threw Porzingis, Al Horford and Jrue Vacation his method, periodically doubled him and tried to flummox the massive fella, but it surely didn’t matter what they did. Jokic confirmed why he’s the league’s Most Precious Participant.
Even so, the Celtics nonetheless constructed a 32-31 edge via one, taking pictures 55 p.c from the ground, 50 p.c from 3 and helping on 9 of their 11 baskets. Every group turned the ball over simply as soon as, as two juggernauts traded blows in entrance of a raucous crowd.
The Celtics didn’t dominate the non-Jokic minutes to start out the second, however they took a 52-44 lead with 4:49 left with Jokic on the court docket. Tatum threw down a thunderous slam in transition, and the gang took umbrage with the no-call and technical that adopted after Tatum briefly held on the rim.
Jaylen Brown glided in for 2, Porzingis continued to wreak havoc within the paint and White discovered a rhythm. The Celtics constantly made the additional cross, turning down good photographs for nice ones and dealing as a unit.
Boston completed the half with 15 assists to only one turnover, taking a 61-55 lead into the break. Porzingis, Jokic and Murray all poured in 19, and all 9 Celtics posted a constructive plus-minus.
The Nuggets began the third on a 14-7 flurry to take a 69-68 edge, however White and Horford hit back-to-back 3-pointers to place the Celtics again in entrance. White seemed for his shot and scored 13 within the quarter, incomes a kiss on the pinnacle from Porzingis and “M-V-P” chants from the gang.
He helped the Celtics take an 82-81 edge into the fourth. They nonetheless had only one turnover, but they nonetheless led by only one.
After an excellent begin to the fourth, Tatum and Brown each delivered inside to offer Boston a 98-95 edge with 4:50 remaining. The Nuggets rapidly responded with a 6-0 spurt to surge again entrance.
Tatum responded with a dunk, and had an opportunity to offer the Celtics a lead with 22.1 remaining, however his layup rimmed out. Aaron Gordon hit a free throw, and Porzingis gained the tip after a double lane violation.
Joe Mazzulla referred to as a timeout with 13.4 remaining, then one other with 4.9 left after nothing developed. Tatum had an opportunity, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on him, however he couldn’t ship with the sport on the road.