Celtics-Nuggets preview: Transition game

Celtics-Nuggets preview: Transition game
February 19, 2013, 12:00 pm
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DENVER — Like the Nuggets, the Celtics also like to get out as often as possible in transition.

But striking that fine balance between staying true to who they are, while avoiding the game becoming a track meet in high tops -- which is exactly what the Nuggets want -- was key to Boston's 118-114 triple overtime win against Denver on Feb. 10.

And it will once again be instrumental in Boston's chances at victory when the two face each other in the Mile High city tonight.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers is well aware that the Nuggets are one of the better teams in the NBA when it comes to generating points in transition; Denver averages an NBA-high 19 fast break points per game this season.

But it wasn't something that Rivers allowed himself or his players to become overly concerned about leading up to the Feb. 10 matchup.

"We wanted to run," Rivers said. "We ran a lot that game."

And it wasn't just on the offensive end of the floor, either. In fact, Boston's ability to score in transition is triggered by their transition defense.

And when that transition defense isn't playing its best -- as was the case in the second half of the Feb. 10 win over Denver -- it makes for a much tougher go of things for the C's.

"In the third, more in the fourth quarter, we stopped getting back in transition," Rivers said. "We don't mind the pace. We just want to take them out of the pace, and we want to continue to run at the pace."

It is indeed a balancing act for the Celtics which serves as one of the many factors sure to come into play tonight. Here are some other keys to keep an eye on as the Celtics go for the season sweep in their final regular season matchup.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Second-chance points will likely play a prominent role in tonight's game with these two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum in that category. Denver averages an NBA-best 16.4 second-chance points per game while the C's are dead-last at 9.9 per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Jason Terry vs Andre Miller. Neither will start, but it's safe to say that both will have a say in the game's final outcome. It was Miller's strong play in the latter stages of their Feb. 10 game that helped Denver get into overtime. And it was Terry's defense against Miller that played a pivotal role in the Celtics finally putting Denver away.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green continues to play at a level comparable to what the Celtics were hoping for this season. He has reached double digits scoring in eight of Boston's last 10 games. That includes a 17-point performance against the Nuggets on Feb. 10.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston hasn't exactly made it rain with threes this season, but that might change tonight. Denver has allowed each of its last three opponents to make at least 10 threes each. Among that threesome you'll find the Celtics, who had a bakers dozen's worth of threes on 13-for-30 shooting in their meeting earlier this month. For the season, Boston ranks 27th in the league in threes made per game (5.6) while opponents are averaging 8.5 made threes against Denver this season. Only Charlotte (8.8) is allowing more made threes per game this season.