at Boston Celtics (35-18) at Denver Nuggets (36-19)
Sunday, February 21
3:30 PM ET
Game #54, Road Game #30
Radio: ESPNR, WEEI, KCKK
Pepsi Center The Can as it is known to Denver Nuggets fans, the Pepsi Center is the place to be during the winter months in the Mile High City. The Nuggets have been a part of the NBA since 1974 when they moved from the American Basketball Association. One year after becoming part of the NBA the Nuggets began playing at McNichols Sports Arena. The 17,000 seat arena was the home of the Nuggets and two NHL teams, the Colorado Rockies and later the Colorado Avalanche. Like every other team in the NBA and NHL, a new arena was needed for both teams in order to remain competitive in both leagues. Construction began in November 1997 and was named after Pepsi bought the naming rights for $68 million.
In 1999 the Nuggets played their first game at the Pepsi Center. The arena has a seating capacity of just over 19,000. It features 95 luxury suites, 1,800 club seats, the Lexus Club, the Blue Sky Grill featuring western crusine and The Denver Post Newsroom.Coach: Doc Rivers
Average Age: 28.3
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 228Probable StartersPG SG SF PF C
Rajon Rondo/Ray Allen/ Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Kendrick Perkins
Tony Allen (ankle) probable
Paul Pierce (thumb) probable
Nate Robinson (flu) out Coach: George Karl
Average Age: 27.6
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 223Probable Starters PG SG SF PF C
Chauncey Billups / Aaron Afflalo /Carmelo Anthony/ Kenyon Martin/ Nene HilarioReserves
J R Smith
Chris Andersen (back) day to day
Renaldo Balkman (back) out Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Chauncey Billups
Chauncey Billups is one of the top PGs in the league and he isn't known as Mr Big Shot for nothing. Rondo has been playing very well and the Celtics will need him to continue his strong and aggressive play in this game, especially on the defensive end.
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
This should be a very good matchup as both players are tough and play hard. Both are strong and can hit the outside shot as well as take it to the hoop. Paul Pierce is playing with a couple of nagging injuries, with the most concerning one being to his thumb. He was 50-50 right up until the start of Friday's game in Portland and wasn't particularly effective. Hopefully with a day off, Pierce will be ready to go. Melo has been playing very well and scoring in bunches. Pierce's defense will be needed even more than his offense. Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Kenyon Martin
Against the Blazers, KG looked the best he has since coming back from the injury. It is no surprise that the better KG plays the better the team defense looks. Hopefully, KG will continue his improvement with a strong game on both ends of the court in this game. Game Notes
The Celtics are looking for their 4th straight win on this western road trip. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Nuggets are coming off a loss to the Washington Wizards after an emotional win over the Cavaliers the night before and are 5-5 in their last 10. The Nuggets struggled while Melo was out with an injury but he is healthy and back playing well.
The Pepsi Center is a tough place for visiting teams to win as evidenced by the Nuggets' 23-5 home record. The Celtics have played well on the road and have a 20-9 road record, but it will still be a tough arena to win in.
Over the last 3 games we have seen the Celtics begin to play very well. Their defense has picked up as has their overall team play. KG is playing better and Ray Allen seems to have worked his way through his recent slump. Rondo and Perk have been playing well over the last 3 games as well. The only question mark in the starting lineup is Paul Pierce who is still trying to get healthy. The Celtics bench, in spite of being short handed played well against the Blazers.
This will be the toughest test of this current road trip. The Nuggets are a tough team, the Pepsi Center is a tough venue, and the last game of a road trip is always the most challenging. Keys to the GameDefense
- The Celtics have won their last 3 games with their defense. They seem to have found the defensive urgency that has been lacking in many games this season. They need to keep their focus on tough defense and continuing to communicate on the defensive end. Focus for 48 Minutes
- The Celtics can't afford to let up against a team like the Nuggets. Any loss of focus against the Nuggets would open the door for them to make a big run. The Celtics must come out strong and not let up until the final buzzer sounds. Rebound
The Celtics must improve their rebounding. The Nuggets have some very strong rebounders on their team and the Celtics have got to attack the boards in order to prevent second chance points and fast breaks by the Nuggets. X-Factor
The Air Up There
It is hard for visiting players to adjust to the thinner air in Denver while the Nuggets' players are used to it. How the Celtics adjust to the Denver altitude will be a big factor.