It was a living nightmare for the Boston Celtics last night against the Denver Nuggets. The Celtics gave up an astounding 129 points in a 31-point blowout. Defense seemed to be the strength of this Boston squad, but in the last two games they’ve given up over 115 points in each. Boston had only given up that many points in two of their last 33 games, but now they’ve had two straight losses by a deficit of over 25 points. Of course, we all knew this road trip would be a tough one. They’re not playing the weak teams of the East anymore, rather the big boys of the West.
The Celtics face another tough test tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second reunion with former Celtic coach Doc Rivers. Surprisingly, the Celtics match up very well against the Clips. In their last meeting, the Celtics were up for most of the first-half but eventually fell to Los Angeles 96 to 88. However, The Celtics played terrific defense and outrebounded the Clippers. They were able to take advantage of DeAndre Jordan’s offensive inefficiencies and minimize his damage as a rebounder. The two differences in that game that allowed the Clippers to come out on top were Chris Paul and the play of the benches. The Celtics scored four total points off the bench compared to 34 by the Clippers led by Jamal Crawford with 21. Paul also took control of the game and scored 22 points and dished out nine assists. He controlled the tempo and led the offense to victory.
Good news: Paul is out with an injury. The Celtics match up even better with the absence of the star point guard. Now most of the defensive focus can be towards containing Blake Griffin. The Celtics still have a weaker bench, but it should be able to do better than four points this time around. Another favorable factor for the Celtics is the play of Jeff Green. It’s obvious that Green wants to put on a show for his former coach. In their first matchup, Green was aggressive and attacked the rim. He wound up with 29 points and took 23 shots. That’s the Green we want to see more of. I think we can expect more of that side of Green tonight as he sets out to impress Rivers.
The Celtics need to take advantage of the loss of Chris Paul. This may be the only winnable game for them on this road trip. Considering the Celtics’ small margin for error, it is hard to predict how well they will perform. Boston literally needs to execute to perfection to win games. Despite this game being their best chance to steal a victory on this road trip, the Celtics will come up just short, 101 to 97, and fall to 13-23 on the season.