The Rundown: Jokic, Nuggets overpower Celtics

Published January 2, 2023, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

Nikola Jokic finished with another triple-double in the Nuggets’ win over the Celtics in a matchup of NBA confrerence leaders.


Grizzlies 118, Kings 108

Wizards 118, Bucks 95

Nuggets 123, Celtics 111

What went down

It's too early to call any matchup a Finals preview, but today the best teams from both conferences faced off. The Denver Nuggets protected home court and defeated the Boston Celtics quite convincingly.

Denver's home court advantage doesn't get played up as much as it used to as teams have gotten better playing on the road over the years. But the Nuggets have been money at home this season, riding that Colorado altitude to a 14-3 home record. Only the Golden State Warriors have a better record on home turf at 16-2.

The Nuggets grabbed the lead early in the first quarter and never gave Boston a chance to come back. Boston didn’t quite have enough offensive juice to counter Nikola Jokic (more on him later) and the Nuggets’ usually shaky defense held up against a Boston offense still trying to incorporate key pieces like Rob Williams.

Both teams are still atop their respective conferences after today with Denver earning a 24-12 record while Boston sits at 26-11.

Out in Memphis, the Grizzlies refused to light the beam, shutting down the Sacramento Kings with a strong defensive stand in the fourth quarter.

Ja Morant dominated this game, dropping 35 points against a frisky Sacramento defense. Morant, after going through a rough stretch shooting the ball, has gone 26-for-45 combined from the field in his last two games.

The Grizzlies are second in the West, tied with New Orleans Pelicans at 23-13. Sacramento, on the other hand, is still in the mix in the loaded middle of the conference at 19-16.

Big-time baller

Nuggets vs. Celtics was also a showcase of MVP candidates. Jayson Tatum was building a strong case, leading the Celtics with career numbers across the board. Today, he had 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Not bad.

But he stepped into Nikola Jokic’s turf and the Joker was ready to dominate. The defending, back-to-back MVP dropped another triple-double of 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists while going 10-for-13 from the field.

There hasn’t been anyone in the league that could legitimately say they slowed down Jokic this season. There hasn’t been a solid case as well for Jokic not to win a third straight MVP.

What he said

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone definitely isn't a fan of voter fatigue.

Did you see that?

The Nuggets-Celtics game was delayed around 35 minutes after Rob Williams bent the rim on a dunk. Arena staff needed time to fix the rim and make sure it was at the right angle.