BOSTON – There’s been a lot of talk about the struggles lately by the Boston Celtics defense.
Such chatter will only become more of a topic of discussion after a disastrous first half defensively which put the Celtics in a deep 77-52 hole to the Denver Nuggets.
Denver came in having played last night at Detroit, but they looked like the well-rested squad, not the Celtics.
As expected, Denver had their way with the Celtics on the glass which led to them having a 9-2 edge in second-chance points.
But what was surprising was how well the Nuggets shot the ball, both from the perimeter and of course around the rim on potential second-chance opportunities.
The Celtics seemingly had no answer defensively as the Nuggets spent a decent amount of time in the second quarter shooting better than 70 percent before ultimately “cooling off” to 64.4 percent at the half.
Gary Harris, making his first start of the season for Denver, scored seemingly at will in the first couple of minutes.
Emmanuel Mudiay, a 27 percent shooter from 3-point range this season, was unstoppable from deep (he hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter) as well as off the dribble which helped account for the Nuggets red-hot shooting in the first half.
Boston was blowout-bound for a large chunk of the first half, with one of the few bright spots being the play of Isaiah Thomas who had 10 points. But he got little help other than a nice stretch in the second quarter when Jordan Mickey had a trio of point-blank dunks off guard penetration.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.
Hands down, the best player in the first half. He had a stretch near the end of the first quarter in which he scored 15 straight points for the Nuggets. At the half, he led all players with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field.
He didn’t have a great first half, but it was better – much better – than his teammates. Thomas had 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
They rank near the bottom of the NBA in a number of categories, and they showed why on Sunday. They couldn’t get stops defensively, or rebound the ball nearly good enough to keep the game relatively close. Poor rebounding coupled with shoddy defense have been key factors in what’s shaping up to be a Celtics beatdown.