Game 21: Nuggets at Celtics


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Tip-off: 7 p.m.
Records: Celtics (16-4), Nuggets (13-7)
Broadcast info: ESPN, WEEI
Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Shaquille O’Neal

Nuggets:
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Shelden Williams
C: Nene Hilario

Storylines:

Walking wounded: The Celtics were too banged up to suit up 10 players for practice yesterday. Among the starters, Rondo (hamstring) and O’Neal (calf) are questionable tonight. Nate Robinson missed practice but is expected to play. Glen Davis (illness) may or may not be available.

Tough opponent: The Celtics can beat the Nets shorthanded, but the Nuggets figure to be a tougher challenge. Denver won seven straight before losing last night in Charlotte. They’re also going for George Karl’s 1000th win, so they’ll have plenty of motivation.

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Matchups: Carmelo Anthony is a matchup problem for everyone, and the Celtics are no exception. Paul Pierce should defend him well, but Anthony’s size will make it difficult. Speaking of size, Billups will be a matchup problem for the Celtics whether or not Rondo plays. The Celtics may need Marquis Daniels or Avery Bradley to guard Billups at some point, which could be a big, big problem.