Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Star for Celtics in 108-95 Rout over Nuggets

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2019

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on December 6, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

Boston prevailed 108-95 at TD Garden in Friday's showdown between two of the best teams in the league in the early going. The Celtics are now 16-5 and riding a three-game winning streak after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown spearheaded the latest victory.

As for Denver, it is still an impressive 14-6 even though it is just 1-3 in its last four games.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jaylen Brown… jeez 😱 (via @celtics) https://t.co/purgQPViMB


Notable Player Stats

  • BOS F Jayson Tatum: 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists
  • BOS G Jaylen Brown: 21 points, seven rebounds and two assists
  • BOS G Kemba Walker: 19 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks
  • DEN C Nikola Jokic: 30 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks


Denver's Highly Regarded Defense Falters on Road

The showdown between Denver's vaunted defense and Boston's talented offense was the headliner Friday.

After all, the Nuggets were ranked No. 1 in the league in defensive rating entering play, per NBA.com, while the Celtics were No. 10 in offensive rating. The stifling defense has allowed Denver to overcome periods of offensive inconsistency, and it thrived in the last meeting with Boston.

Not so much in the rematch.

Russillo @ryenarussillo

Celtics look incredible tonight. Everyone taking turns. Two seasons with depth, two completely different teams.

Boston Celtics @celtics

DOUBLE TROUBLE 💪🏽 https://t.co/Ys6XYlZ2bO

Boston Celtics @celtics

🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/2mAzOA5GyL

Boston Celtics @celtics

Coast to coast 🏖 https://t.co/crpArliPfH

The Celtics poured in 33 points in the first quarter alone, setting the tone in what turned into a comfortable win. Nearly everyone was involved from the start, and the presence of Kemba Walker—who exited the last matchup with Denver with an injury—helped open up the floor.

Denver's defense temporarily tightened up as it chipped away at the lead in the second quarter and forced some turnovers like it has all season, but Boston fully seized control by the end of the third. Brown's thunderous dunk and Tatum's three-pointer on back-to-back possessions in the final minute of the third electrified the crowd and essentially put the game away.

It was just one game against a red-hot Boston team that hasn't missed Kyrie Irving at all, but the defense on display in Friday's contest from the Nuggets was not good enough to eventually compete in the daunting Western Conference.


Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown Rounding into Form

While Walker was an impressive addition for the Celtics and will help them overcome the loss of Irving, they will only go as far as their two high-ceiling wings take them.

The pair was at its best for extended stretches against Denver.

Ironically, Tatum was not much of a factor in the early going with just two free throws in Boston's explosive first quarter, but he wasted little time making his mark after the opening 12 minutes. He glided through the defense, hit shots from the outside, used his first step to get to the rim and drew additional defenders to open looks for his teammates.

Marc D'Amico @Marc_DAmico

The Celtics are getting a whole lot of quality looks here in the first quarter. Been a while since the Nuggets defense looked this questionable.

He was two games removed from his 30-point showing against the New York Knicks and appears to be growing in confidence as he embraces his go-to role.

As for Brown, he scored 28 and 31 points in his previous two games against the Knicks and Miami Heat, respectively, and capitalized on that space created by Tatum and Walker. Like his teammate, he didn't hesitate to attack the rim beyond just his monster dunk and hit from beyond the arc multiple times.

If Tatum and Brown continue to play like they have in the early going in December, Boston will be a serious threat for an NBA Finals spot even with Irving on the Brooklyn Nets.


What's Next?

The Nuggets are at the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, while the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.