The plan was for two of the NBA's hottest teams to converge on one floor, as both the Celtics and the Denver Nuggets carried seven-game winning streaks into the beginning of this week. But the Charlotte Bobcats drove a dagger through that plan.
While the C's are still undefeated in their last seven contests, the Nuggets lost at the buzzer in Charlotte on Tuesday night, as Chauncey Billups missed a game-tying shot and their streak was snapped at seven. So when the Nuggets get to the TD Garden on Wednesday night, they'll be looking to return to their winning ways, while the Celtics look to continue theirs.
When and Where
Nuggets at Celtics
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m. (ESPN, CSNNE)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Head to Head
This is the first of two matchups this season between the Celtics and Nuggets; they split two last year, with each team winning at home. The C's won 113-99 at the TD Garden in their most recent meeting, on March 24. Carmelo Anthony went off for 32 points in that game, but the C's won anyway with a solid defensive effort in the fourth quarter.
Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony
The best way to describe Carmelo is like Paul Pierce, only bigger and stronger. He's one of the toughest forwards in the NBA to defend — he's an incredible athlete that can use his size and speed to create his own shot. Pierce will have to hold his ground — be tough without fouling, be relentless without expending too much energy. It's a balancing act, and it's one of the hardest assignments Pierce will get all season. He's got to be top-notch on both ends.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Shaquille O'Neal
Point guard: Chauncey Billups
Shooting guard: Arron Afflalo
Small forward: Carmelo Anthony
Power forward: Shelden Williams
Center: Nene Hilario
- Glen Davis had 16 points and nine rebounds in the Celtics' win Sunday over the Nets. He had a total of 55 points and 31 boards in four games last week.
- Kevin Garnett is second in the NBA in defensive rebounds (176), trailing only Kevin Love (223).
- Nate Robinson averages 16.5 points per game when he starts and 5.5 when he comes off the bench.
- Chauncey Billups scored 25 points in the Nuggets' loss Tuesday night to the Bobcats, matching his season high. He also dropped 25 in a Nov. 28 win over the Suns.
- Nene is shooting 62.6 percent from the field, best in the NBA.
- Carmelo Anthony is averaging 22.8 points per game, his lowest single-season average since 2004-05.
Black and Blue
- Jermaine O'Neal is out with a knee injury. He hopes to return by Christmas.
- Delonte West is out with a broken wrist. His return date is unknown.
- Kendrick Perkins is recovering from offseason knee surgery and will be out until early 2011.
- Chris Andersen will miss a week or two with fractured vertebrae.
- Kenyon Martin is out indefinitely as he recovers from knee surgery.
Against most teams, it's a tremendous advantage to have an opponent playing the second night of a back-to-back. They're tired, they're lazy, and they make mistakes both physically and mentally. But the Nuggets aren't like most teams — their depth of athletic talent helps them weather even the toughest parts of the schedule. Expect the Nuggets to bring their A game to Boston, and maybe a little chip on their shoulder, too — they just snapped a seven-game winning streak, and they'll be eager to start anew.