at Pepsi Center, 10:30 p.m. | TNT, WEEI (850 AM)
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Some Assembly Required: Both the Celtics and Nuggets find themselves in opposite states of flux this evening. Denver is welcoming in three new key players in Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari, who all came over from New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Meanwhile, the Celtics waved goodbye to a quintet of players earlier today, as centers Kendrick Perkins and Semih Erden, forwards Luke Harangody and Marquis Daniels, and guard Nate Robinson were all traded away. How will each club perform tonight in the midst of their respective fluctuating circumstances?
Center of Attention: The Celtics agreed to trade away centers Perkins and Erden, along with rookie forward Luke Harangody, which leaves them very thin up front for tonight's game. Besides Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics will have no other available big men on hand. Boston will have to play small ball, and don't be shocked if a guy like Paul Pierce logs time at either the center or power forward position. The Celtics will have their hands full in the middle tonight with Denver's Nene Hilario, who's currently leading the NBA in field goal percentage (63.4 percent) and boasts averages of 15.0 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Truth Serum: In 23 career games against the Nuggets, Pierce has averaged 25.3 points per game, good for his second highest career scoring average against any one team (He's only averaged more points against the Los Angeles Lakers over the course of his career). In those 23 games, Pierce has shot 49.7 percent from the field, and a scorching 39.7 percent from three-point nation.
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
With all of their new acquisitions expected to be available, the Nuggets will look to avoid a fourth loss in five meetings with the Celtics when the teams meet Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.
The three-team deal that sent Anthony, Chauncey Billups and three other Nuggets to New York for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov left the Nuggets (33-25) short-handed Tuesday. Denver, though, defeated Memphis 120-107 as six of its eight active players scored in double figures.
"Our guys, when their backs are confronted with a difficult situation, they usually play at a high level," coach George Karl said. "We always react to tough situations in a very positive way."
Read the full preview HERE.