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.
Nuggets at Celtics
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m. (ESPN, CSNNE)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
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
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.
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