- The Denver Nuggets take a three-game winning streak to Boston, where they are 3-point underdogs against the Celtics (7 p.m. EST)
- Denver is without several of their starters, but Boston has lost their last two games and seven of its last ten
- Read below for complete analysis, odds and a pick on the game
The Denver Nuggets have managed to navigate their schedule relatively well, considering how many of the team’s top players have been popping up on the injury report.
Several of those names are expected to return soon, but not before the Nugs take on Boston on Tuesday night. Both teams are playing the first of back-to-back games and both are undefeated in the first of such games this season. The Celtics have played just 10 home games so far, but are 7-3 against the spread, and Boston has covered in three of their last four at TD Garden Arena.
Denver is on a three-game winning streak, led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, who has averaged 28.4 points per game over his last five. He’ll have his work cut out for him against Boston, which has been the second-best defensive team in the paint over its last three games.
Celtics vs Nuggets Odds
|Denver||+3 (-109)||+123||O 221.5 (-112)|
|Boston||-3 (-112)||-143||U 221.5 (-109)|
Odds taken from DraftKings on Feb. 16th
Denver Making it Work
The Nuggets are confirmed to be without starters Paul Millsap and Will Barton. Millsap left early in Denver’s Valentine’s Day matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers with a knee injury, but the Nuggets carried on without him and won, 122-105.
Barton missed the Lakers game and will miss tonight with a personal matter. He had come on as of late, but with Monte Morris also a game time decision, the Nugs’ backcourt is likely going to need a someone like Facundo Campazzo to play a bigger part than usual. Ball-dominant guards have found success against Boston recently, and Denver is going to need Jamal Murray to continue playing at a high level tonight. Murray has scored 20 points-or-more in four of his last seven games.
As a team, the Nuggets have had an effective shooting percentage of 59.3% over their last three games; good for fourth-best in the NBA during that stretch. Boston has been among the worst in that category over the same period and the Celtics have scored an average of 104.3 points, which is the fourth-lowest average in the league.
Can Jokic and Porter Step Up for the Nuggets?
Denver guard Gary Harris will also miss the game for Denver with a thigh injury, meaning Michael Porter Jr. will also need to take on an expanded role in the Nuggets offense. Porter hasn’t been particularly efficient over his last six games, and has shot just 38% from the field during that stretch.
Jokic (23 PTS, 16 REB, 10 AST) & Murray (25 PTS) were locked in against the Lakers! ? pic.twitter.com/D6rTN4ICts
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 15, 2021
Boston has been one of the stingiest three-point defenses in the league at home this season, and even though Denver scored 57 points from threes against the Lakers, Porter has shot just 23.5% from distance in those last six games. Jokic has been cool from beyond the arc as well, and has only made 3-of-12 combined in his last two games. Both are sure to have an extended run on the floor this evening, and it could be a long night for the pair if they don’t find a way to get into a rhythm early on.
The good news for the Nuggets is that Celtics big man Daniel Theis is a game time decision with an injured finger. He is already one of the more foul-prone starting frontcourt players in the NBA, and has just five fewer personal fouls on the season than Jokic in more than 300 fewer minutes played.
The Celtics’ scoring has been down in recent games, but Denver comes into the game a depleted side without the number of its usual scoring options. Both teams’ pace of play ranks in the bottom-third of the league, but the Celtics first unit should be the best on the floor. Additionally, both teams have been top defensive units in suppressing opponents’ field goal and three-point percentages in recent games, so each possession is going to be critical.
Jayson Tatum had his worst performance of the season last time out, but if he, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker can all put it together for Boston, the Nuggets are going to have their work cut out for them. The Celtics bench has produced the third fewest points per game this season, but with Denver on a short rotation, both team’s starters should be in for a long night.
The Pick: Under 221.5 Points (-109)