The Denver Nuggets will attempt to hand the Celtics their first home loss of the season when the teams meet Friday night in Boston.
Boston became the 13th team in NBA history to start a season 20-0 at home by beating the San Antonio Spurs 117-98 Wednesday. The Celtics made 18 of 38 shots from 3-point range, including 13 of 19 in the first half.
“The goal has been to build a connection and identity with the city and with the team to where they give us this lift and this level of support that they have when we play a certain type of way, Celtics basketball,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “We’ve done that for the first 20 games at home. That’s been the goal.
“When you play for the Celtics, there’s a ton of records, traditions, great players. If you chase them all, you’re bound to let yourself down. … I think it’s more about living in that space of what Celtics basketball is all about and playing the best we can for as long as we can.”
The Celtics were without starting center Kristaps Porzingis (right knee inflammation) and starting point guard Derrick White (left ankle sprain) against the Spurs. Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and Jrue Holiday made six 3-pointers during his 22-point performance for the Celtics, who have won three in a row.
“I think we still are improving,” Jaylen Brown said after scoring 21 points on Wednesday. “This is the part of the regular season where you gotta embrace — you can get complacent, you can get mentally checked out. We’re trying to make sure we all are engaged, and this is where you build your endurance for a long playoff drive.
“This is the part of the regular season I think is the most important. Going into the All-Star break, etc., teams start to count the days, and we’re gonna keep stacking the wins.”
The Nuggets, who won their first NBA championship last season, are coming off a 126-121 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday. That dropped Denver’s road record to 11-10 on the season.
The game was tied 78-78 at halftime. Denver led 104-99 after three quarters before being outscored 27-17 in the fourth. Five of Denver’s 11 turnovers came in the final 12 minutes, when Philadelphia had 13 free throw attempts.
“Obviously not the outcome we wanted, but proud of the effort,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We just have to be a little bit cleaner for the full 48.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball down the stretch. That’s what it came down to. We have to be better at defending, and defending without fouling.”
Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic collected 25 points and 19 rebounds in the loss. Jokic had a career-high 11 offensive rebounds, all of which came in the first three quarters. He is averaging 25.5 points, 11.9 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.
This will be Denver’s second stop on a five-game road trip that also includes contests against Washington, Indiana and New York. It also will be the first of two regular-season games between the Nuggets and Celtics, with the teams scheduled to meet in Denver on March 7.
–Field Level Media