The Boston Celtics hadn’t lost at home all season…until the defending champs came to town.
Jayson Tatum missed a jumper at the buzzer as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Celtics, 102-100, at TD Garden. This snapped a 27-game home win streak that dated back to last season.
Boston led by three points after Jaylen Brown’s layup with 4:51 remaining but scored just two points the rest of the way. Denver only had seven points in the last five minutes, a combination of hard, playoff-level defense and some awkward, tired offense from both teams.
It was a tough night for Tatum, who scored 22 points on 9-for-24 shooting, including 1-for-8 from three-point range. He almost made an incredible go-ahead basket after taking a rebound coast-to-coast but fumbled the ball going up against three Denver defenders.
But the difference of the game was that Boston’s balanced lineup couldn’t measure up to Denver’s dynamic duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. They combined for 69 points on a 29-for-43 night, making over 67 percent of their shots. Jokic and Murray also combined for 14 assists on their way to either scoring or assisting on all but 13 of Denver’s 102 points.
Was Friday’s game an NBA Finals preview? Boston leads the Eastern Conference, while Denver moved to within 2.5 points of the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves with the win. The Celtics were one home victory from meeting the Nuggets in last year’s Finals, so it’s a strong possibility that we will see a recap of this matchup.
Both teams will have to get better at scoring down the stretch, and Boston will have to extend their regular-season home dominance to the playoffs.