There are teams in the NBA who have a couple of superstars who can win their team a game all on their own. Then there are teams that have one superstar, but still need support from some bench players to win most games. Well, the Celtics are neither of these two options; in fact they aren’t really close to either (although some would argue that). The Celtics are in fact a “team,” and they need almost everyone on the roster to pitch in to help win on any given night. The season has been quite a rollercoaster ride thus far, but it seems that they’re starting to figure out who they are, and find their identity. Tonight against the Denver Nuggets, it seemed to be the defining moment of where this season “could” be headed.
Right out of the gate tonight, the C’s jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Nuggets, which was a rare treat for Celtic fans. The Celtics are normally trying to dig themselves out of a whole down the stretch, but tonight the C’s pounced on the Nuggets, with Avery Bradley scoring six points in the first four minutes of the game. The Nuggets would finally get on the board when J.J Hickson made one out of two free throws. The Nuggets wouldn’t exactly show up at this juncture of the game, as the Celtics would score the final 12 out of 13 points in the quarter, and go into the 2nd quarter with a twenty-four-point lead (Jordan Crawford also nailed a 29 foot 3-point jumper, something he has done before).
Celtic center, Kris Humphries, was a player who hasn’t made huge contributions all season; in fact in the month of November he didn’t even get off the pine on five different occasions. Honestly, most fans forgot that he was even on the roster at times, but nobody heard a peep out of him. I said all of this to make everyone aware, Kris Humphries played like a man who had been a starter all year, and it was his job to lead his team to victory. His playing time has increased due to the ankle injury to Kelly Olynyk, but Humphries is making the best of his opportunity.
Early foul trouble for Sullinger would force Coach Stevens hand, and made him put in Humphries a little earlier than expected, but man did it pay off for the C’s. Humphries would put together his best game ever in a Celtic uni, as he would register 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block in just 24 minutes of game action. When the Nuggets made a push in the second, and cut into a once large lead for the Celtics, Humphries made back-to-back baskets (followed by an Avery Bradley 3 point make), which would push the squad back into the driver seat.
Coach Stevens had this to say about Humphries after the game tonight; “Our starters played fantastic at the start of the game and got us out to a huge lead. In the second half it was our bench that got us back out to the lead, and Kris was a big part of that. He has done a good job for us, I think that speaks to his professionalism, too, because this hasn’t always been easy for him. He’s been a pro about everything.”
Crawford was the main star of the show tonight, as he just put on an offensive and defensive clinic (yes, I said clinic). Crawford was once a question mark to coming back to the Celtics after being acquired at the trade deadline last season. Now he is becoming one of the Celtics go to players on both ends of the floor, which is amazing. Crawford had a team-high 22 points, while also leading the team in assists for the night with a game total of eight.
The Celtics may not have put together a full four quarters of basketball tonight, but it was enough for the win against a worthy opponent like the Denver Nuggets, as they would hold on to win 106-98. The Celtics don’t have a legitiment superstar on the team right now (some would say Jeff Green is on the rise), but sometimes a team full of nitty gritty winners will beat talent, and the Celtic faithful should brace themselves to see a lot of that this season.
The Celtics still find themselves in 1st place of the Atlantic Division after tonight.
Kris Humphries had a Boston Celtic career high 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.
There was a moment of silence held at the start of the game for the late Nelson Mandela.
This was Denver’s second straight loss in a row, and both have come against eastern conference opponents.