Garnett is back for this visit for the Celtics as they try to sweep their four-game trip Sunday against the Denver Nuggets.
Boston (35-18) went into the All-Star break after losing five of eight to see its lead atop the Atlantic Division cut to four games. The Celtics, though, have seemingly found their championship form in three impressive wins to start this trip.
“People can call us old, call us whatever,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re just going to keep trying to get better.”
Garnett was out with a muscle strain in his right knee the last time Boston played Denver (36-19), but it didn’t work to the Nuggets’ advantage. The Celtics handed the Nuggets their worst home loss since Feb. 2, 1998, with a 114-76 victory.
The 38-point margin of defeat tied for the second-biggest home loss since Denver joined the NBA in 1976.
“I think it was a championship team (that) wanted to kick somebody’s butt,” said Nuggets coach George Karl after the loss in which his team trailed 60-37 at halftime.
The Nuggets will get to see Garnett after he made his first six shots and scored 16 points in a 96-76 win at Portland on Friday. He’s increased his scoring output on every game this trip.
Garnett should be a bigger factor on the defensive end Sunday since he has helped the Celtics slow down Carmelo Anthony(notes) the three times the power forward has played against the Nuggets with Boston. Anthony, among the league leaders with a 29.3 scoring average, is averaging 19.3 on 38.7 percent shooting against the Celtics with Garnett.
The Denver superstar was magnificent with 40 points in a 118-116 overtime win at league-leading Cleveland on Thursday, but made 7 of 20 shots for 23 points the next night in a 107-97 loss at lowly Washington.
“I missed shots,” Anthony said. “Shots that I made (Thursday) night, I didn’t make tonight.”
The Nuggets had 25 assists and five turnovers in the win over the Cavaliers before finishing with 12 of each against the Wizards.
“We have a selfish disposition at times,” Karl said. “Sometimes it might come from fatigue, sometimes it might come from complacency. Can’t beat anybody with 12 assists. It’s just a joke.”
The Nuggets will have to try to cool off Ray Allen(notes), who is averaging 22.5 points on 65.5 percent shooting in his last two games for Boston. Allen is averaging 23.5 on 53.2 percent shooting in four games against Denver since joining the Celtics.
“He’s just playing well. He’s relaxed … he was making shots and it was good for us,” Rivers said.