Celtics

Strong defense, Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown combo and other takeaways from Celtics' win over Denver

Strong defense, Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown combo and other takeaways from Celtics' win over Denver

BOSTON -- With the shot clock winding down in the first half courtesy of some stout defense by the Denver Nuggets, Jayson Tatum’s tossed up a desperation 3-pointer and it went down. 

A couple minutes later, Kemba Walker was being hounded by some strong Nuggets defense and his shot also swished through the net, just beating the shot clock horn sounding off. 

It was that kind of night for the Boston Celtics who pulled away in the second half for a surprisingly cushy 108-95 win. 

Only Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers have a better record in the NBA than the Celtics (15-6) who improved their record at home to 9-0. 

It was as complete a game as we've seen from the Celtics who led wire-to-wire against a Denver team that came in with the second-best record in the always-rugged Western Conference.

TEAM DEFENSE

There were bodies flying all over the floor on close-outs, rebounds grabbed in traffic and multiple shot-clock violations being forced by Boston’s defense. 

For most of the game, the Celtics collectively delivered the kind of defensive performance that they absolutely had to have against a Denver squad that’s among the best in the NBA. 

Boston was especially effective defending the 3-point shot as they forced the Nuggets into missing 14 of their 15 attempts in the first half. For the game, Denver was 5-for-30 (16.7 percent) on 3’s. 

Of course Boston’s game plan defensively worked, but the biggest factor in that success was the effort level. 

Most of this season there has been an ebb and flow feel about Boston’s defense and its overall impact. 

But on Friday the defensive effort level never waned which will be the key to the defensive performance we saw against the Nuggets being more of the standard and not the exception to the rule when it comes to their play at that end of the floor. 

TATUM-BROWN TANDEM

We tend to think of them as individuals which they are, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to get better at playing at a high level off one another. 

In the first quarter, it was Brown who carried much of the scoring load for Boston. The second quarter saw Tatum in take-over mode. 

At the half, Brown had 13 points while Tatum had 12. For the game, Tatum had a team-high 26 points while Brown finished with 21 points. 

Their ability to hit teams with one scoring wave after another provides Boston with the kind of offensive firepower that adds another layer of difficulty to opponents trying to limit a 1-2 punch offensively that’s only going to get better with time. 

ENES KANTER

The minutes were not in abundant supply for Enes Kanter - only 18 if you’re keeping score at home. But what we’ve seen from Kanter lately is that regardless of how long or short his stints are, he’s making his presence felt when he checks into the game. 

He had eight points against the Nuggets, shooting 3-for-4 from the field as well as making both of his free throws. His points came at a time when the Celtics were trying to assert control of the game and Kanter’s role as an around-the-basket scorer was instrumental in that coming to pass. 

More than anything, Kanter’s limited playing time puts his words about caring only about winning, to the test. 

Because even though he’s not playing major minutes, he has a major role on this team, a role he executed to near-perfection against the Nuggets.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics injuries: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown out vs. Magic

Celtics injuries: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown out vs. Magic

The Boston Celtics are getting progressively more banged-up.

Jaylen Brown (ankle) has been ruled out of Friday's game at the Orlando Magic. He joins Jayson Tatum (groin) on the injury report, and head coach Brad Stevens has said big man Enes Kanter likely will miss the next two games with a right hip contusion.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Celtics routed the Grizzlies without Brown on Wednesday but lost both Tatum and Kanter to injury. Boston has rarely operated at full strength this season, as Friday will mark the 28th game the team will play without at least one of Tatum, Brown, Kemba Walker or Gordon Hayward in the lineup.

The silver lining for C's fans: Boston on Friday recalled rookie big man Tacko Fall, who might see some action near his old stomping grounds (Fall attended the University of Central Florida in Orland) with Kanter and Robert Williams out.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Magic live stream: Watch NBA game online

Celtics vs. Magic live stream: Watch NBA game online

The Celtics have bounced back from a stretch where they had lost six of eight games to put together two of their best wins of the season - blowout victories of the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.  They'll now try to keep it going on the road when they visit the Orlando Magic Friday night to start a three-game trip.

Jayson Tatum, who was the Celtics' leading scorer with 23 points in the 119-95 win over the Grizzlies before leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury, won't play tonight and Jaylen Brown, who missed the Memphis game with an ankle sprain, also won't play Friday as the C's quest to put together their regular lineup, all healthy at the same time, will have to wait at least another game (the trip continues Sunday at New Orleans and Tuesday at Miami).

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Celtics will also be without center Enes Kanter (right hip contusion).

The Magic come in having lost three of four, including a home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, since beating the Lakers in L.A. on Jan. 15. It's the first of four meetings this season between Boston and Orlando. The C's host the Magic on Feb. 5.  

Here's how to watch NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics vs. Magic, beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH

Listen and subscribe to our Celtics Talk Podcast>>>

ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 6 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Mike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

DURING THE GAME, FOLLOW US 

@NBCSBOSTON

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

ON TWITTER