Up until now, the revamped Boston Celtics have been the darlings of the season.

Sporting a league-best 48-13 win-loss record, the Celtics are poised to enter next month’s playoffs with guaranteed home court advantage in every round as the offseason addition of former NBA All-Stars Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis has elevated them to another level. Their dominance has inevitably put them front and center in the list of championship favorites, but one team has rained on Boston’s parade this regular season and looms large as a threat to their title aspirations.

Despite the Celtics’ dominance in recent months, they could not overcome the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets who completed a 2-0 regular season series sweep.The Nuggets won their prior match-up held in Boston last January 19, 102-100.

This time around, Denver edged out the Celtics, 115-109, at the Ball Arena in what could be a sneak peek of this June’s NBA Finals. The Nuggets have flown under the radar for most of this season, yet are slowly kicking into gear and have proven on many occasions that they can ramp up to their postseason form when necessary.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic led Denver to victory with yet another dominant triple double–32 points on 11-of-19 field goals, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists–to go with an astounding zero turnovers. This marked Jokic’s 20th triple double this season which has helped him emerge as the front-runner for this year’s MVP award.

If he does wind up winning it this year, he will become just the ninth player in NBA history to be named the league’s MVP three times.


The Nuggets’ win was not a mere one-man show though. Five other players scored at least nine points for Denver led by Jamal Murray who had 19 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals. Aaron Gordon added 16 points, including a few emphatic dunks down the stretch that helped put Boston away.

This win by the Nuggets not only reinforced the notion that they should still be considered the overall favorites to win this year’s title, but also showed some weak points in Boston’s attack. The knock on Jayson Tatum over his seven-year career is that he fails to show up in big games and this one was no exception. He scored only 15 points on 14 shots in his 38 minutes of play. He did have eight assists, though he also had a team-high five turnovers.

The Celtics’ lack of depth was quite obvious as well as their bench only scored a combined 10 points. For reference, Denver’s Peyton Watson outscored Boston’s four reserves all by himself with his 11 points.

Aside from securing their season series against the Celtics, the win also kept Denver in the thick of the hunt for the West’s top seed. They trail the Minnesota Timberwolves by just one game in the standings and can control their fate as these two teams will still face one another three times before the end of the regular season next month.

As the Nuggets continue to ramp up during this title defense, it is becoming increasingly clear that the path to the NBA championship still winds through the Rocky Mountains. Denver looks poised to go back-to-back at this point, but it is too soon to count out these Celtics and the rest of the contenders as momentum can swing at any moment.