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.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
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- GroinQues Sun | questionable
Tatum missed the previous game with a right groin strain, and it has yet to be established if he will suit up Sunday against the Pelicans.
- HipOut Sun | out
Kanter missed the last game with a right hip contusion, and will not draw back into the lineup Sunday against the Pelicans.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Brown has been held out of the previous two games with a right ankle sprain, and it is up in the air if he will face the Pelicans on Sunday.
- KneeProb Wed | probable
Walker is suffering from left knee soreness but is expected to suit up for Wednesday's battle versus the Grizzlies.
- ThumbProb Mon | probable
Brown has been held out of the previous two games due to a right thumb sprain, but he is expected to suit up for Monday's tilt versus the Lakers.
- KneeProb Mon | probable
Walker missed the previous contest due to left knee soreness, but it is likely he will be available for Monday's clash with the Lakers.
- HipLate Feb | out
Williams III has been diagnosed with a bone edema in his left hip. He is expected to be out of action though the All-Star break.
- AnkleProb Sat | probable
Smart is dealing with an ankle injury, but it is not expected to hinder his availability versus the Suns on Saturday.
- FootLate Feb | out
Plumlee has a cuboid injury in his right foot and will likely require four to six weeks to heal.
- GroinProb Fri | probable
Harris has missed the past five games with a right adductor strain, but it is likely that he will return to the court Friday against the Pelicans.
- BackQues Fri | questionable
Porter Jr. sat out the previous game with back tightness, and it remains to be seen if he will play against the Pelicans on Friday.
- KneeOut indefinitely | out
Millsap is out of commission with a left knee contusion, and the severity of the ailment is unknown.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | out
Murray is sidelined with a left ankle sprain, and he is expected to miss several games.
- AnkleQues Wed | questionable
Plumlee left the last game with a right ankle sprain, and it remains to be seen if he will play against the Rockets on Wednesday.
- BackProb Wed | probable
Murray has back pain, but he is expected to take the court versus the Hornets on Wednesday.