Friday was a day to forget for the Boston Celtics. Clearly uninterested in the game, the Celtics let the Sacramento Kings -- a team they had defeated eight straight times coming into the game -- walk all over them and post a 120-95 victory, thanks in part to a 41-point third quarter. Boston looks to rebound against the Denver Nuggets at 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday night (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).
Boston is likely in for a tough night, as the Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring (they average 103.8 points per game) and have the most efficient passing game in the league, averaging an NBA-best 23.5 APG). The good news is that, unlike the Celtics, the Nuggets are a terrible defensive team. Denver allows 101.5 points per game, which ranks 28th in the league.
Making matters worse, the Celtics diagnosed leading scorer Paul Pierce with a "mild right ankle sprain" late in Friday's loss. Pierce said he tweaked it when he stepped on Marcus Thornton's foot, adding that he hopes it doesn't swell up. Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, also added that he hopes the injury isn't serious. Celtics fans will certainly agree.
The last thing the Celtics need are injuries. Already down Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox this year, Rivers has been trying t pick up the pieces all season long. Boston's injuries have resulted in Kevin Garnett being moved to center and inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, a move that has worked out pretty well so far.
But if Pierce is injured, Rivers will have to do more reorganizing. If he can't go on Saturday, Mickael Pietrus (nine points off the bench in Celtics' loss to Kings) will likely get the start, which isn't all that bad. Pietrus can provide a spark with his timely threes and is a pretty good defender, but he is a ver streaky shooter.
Boston had won seven of nine games entering Friday, with its only two losses coming to the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. Boston is now 2-2 on their current eight-game West coast road trip, but still has a change to salvage the trip in Denver on Saturday, Atlanta on Monday, Milwaukee next Thursday and Philadelphia the day after that.
Denver, meanwhile, has won six of nine games since the All-Star break, but it has dropped three of its last five. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder handed the Nuggets their last loss, 103-90, on Thursday. Andre Miller scored 17 and Danilo Gallinari had 15 points to lead the Nuggets, who were held to 43.6 percent shooting in the defeat.