Two of the better teams in the NBA square off on Friday night when the Boston Celtics host the Denver Nuggets. Boston is a superb 8-0 at home and has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference while Denver is 6-2 on the road and owns the second-best winning percentage in the West.
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The Nuggets posted a 96-92 home win over the Celtics on Nov. 22 in a contest remembered more for Celtics guard Kemba Walker being stretchered off the court with a neck injury. Walker missed just one game and scored a season-best 39 points against the Brooklyn Nets in his return and he had another strong outing with 28 points in Wednesday's 112-93 home rout of the Miami Heat. Denver recovered from back-to-back losses to steamroll the host New York Knicks 129-92 on Thursday. "Very important win," swingman Will Barton said during a postgame television interview. "It's tough losing two games (in a row). ... To get a win and get back on track and get some of the negativity out of your mind is big."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Altitude (Denver), NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (14-5): Eight players scored in double digits and the Nuggets shot 56.3 percent from the field, including 21-of-39 from 3-point range, in the easy victory over the Knicks. Denver piled up a season-high 38 assists - compared to 13 turnovers - while standout big man Nikola Jokic contributed eight of the assists in just 25 minutes. "He just makes the right play. What I love about Nikola is he's totally selfless," Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters. "He exemplifies what we talk about with our culture."
ABOUT THE CELTICS (15-5): Shooting guard Jaylen Brown established season bests of 31 points and five 3-pointers against Miami and is averaging 29.5 points over the past two games. Boston coach Brad Stevens said that Walker's ability to create pressure on defenders and make sound decisions leads to players like Brown and small forward Jayson Tatum getting open looks. "The beneficiaries are going to be the guys standing, spotting up," Stevens said after the win. "I think our guys did a really good job of driving and kicking and moving the ball, finding the next right guy."
1. The Nuggets have won the past three meetings and five of the last seven.
2. Boston PG Marcus Smart (illness, oblique) missed the Miami game and is questionable for Friday.
3. Barton was 4-of-4 from 3-point range while scoring a team-best 17 points against the Knicks.