Celtics

Celtics-Nuggets review: Pierce makes mark in win

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Celtics-Nuggets review: Pierce makes mark in win

BOSTON Paul Pierce continues to be the Boston Celtics' Mr. Do-Everything, tallying his second triple-double of the season in leading the Celtics past Denver in a 118-114 triple overtime thriller.

Pierce finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists for the Celtics (27-23) who moved four games above .500 for the first time this season, and have now won a season-high seven straight games.

"This was a great game to be a part of," Pierce said. "This is the type of win that can give us confidence moving forward."

Especially considering it was Boston's sixth straight game with at least five double-digit scorers.

And while a number of players took center stage at different points in the game for Boston, there was no mistaking the steady play of Pierce who seemed to find a way to put his imprint on the game in a variety of ways.

His play continues what has been a trend in this post-Rajon Rondo run the C's are on, a run that has in large part been fueled by the play of Pierce.

Pierce hit a number of big shots for the C's on Sunday, but none as big as the 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds to play in the second overtime that tied the game at 107.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the original play was Pierce coming off a pick-and-roll, and he could get a 3-pointer off, take it.

"Then it was broken and Paul just made a play," Rivers said. "I mean, that's what great players do. I would love to tell you I had something to do with it. I was sitting just like the fans praying, 'Please, Lord, Paul make a shot.'"

Pierce's clutch shot making was among the many keys in arguably the Celtics' most hard-earned wins of the season. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how those keys played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Nuggets are all about getting buckets, all the time. For the season, they have averaged 104.8 points per game which ranks third in the NBA. During their nine-game winning streak, they lead the league in scoring with 114.6 points per game. Meanwhile, the C's counter with a scoring defense (93.8) that ranks 6th overall this season, and is 4th in the league (89.7) during the Celtic's six-game winning streak.

WHAT WE SAW: The triple overtime affair certainly skewed the scoring numbers for both teams. But considering the Nuggets needed three overtime periods to reach their scoring average during the winning streak that is no longer, it speaks to how well the Celtics defense played against one of the most prolific offenses in the NBA.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Kenneth Faried: Pierce has been playing some of his best basketball of the season lately, but the 6-foot-8 Faried presents a different and in many ways, tougher challenge for the Captain. Faried is a high-energy, always-on-the-move player with great rebounding instincts evident by his 9.7 rebounds per game this season. Keeping him off the boards should be an even bigger priority for Pierce than doing what he does best, which is score.

WHAT WE SAW: Pierce had another big game for the Celtics with his second triple-double of the season with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. As for Faried, he had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, but committed a huge gaffe by committing a technical foul after Ty Lawson gave the Nuggets their first lead, 90-89, with 1:43 to play in the fourth quarter. Jason Terry made the game-tying free throw moments later.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Boston's second unit has been in attack mode of late, but Denver's JaVale McGee might make the C's think otherwise. He's averaging 10.1 points off the Nuggets bench, in addition to 2.02 blocked shots per game which doesn't factor in the shots his presence around the paint can alter. His four blocked shots at Cleveland on Saturday was the seventh time this season he has had at least four in a game. That's tops among all NBA reserves this season.

WHAT WE SAW: McGee was a monster on the boards with 16, but he was out of position far too often in the third overtime which allowed Kevin Garnett to have wide open to lightly-contested shots that paved the way for Boston's victory.

STAT TO TRACK: Limiting Denver's offensive rebounds will be an across-the-board challenge for Boston. The Nuggets average an NBA-best 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. Boston has been among the better defensive rebounding teams of late, but during their six-game winning streak they are still giving up 13.2 offensive rebounds per game.

WHAT WE SAW: The Nuggets stayed true to form, grabbing 15 offensive boards which led to 23 second-chance points. However, Denver only grabbed two offensive boards in the three overtime periods that resulted in just three points.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the Magic at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

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