Whew. What a basketball game. That’s what it’s all about.

The Denver Nuggets earned a hard fought 102-100 win over the Boston Celtics in TD Garden on Friday night on national television. It was the Celtics’ first home loss of the regular season, dropping to a 20-1 record.

The game came down to the wire with Jayson Tatum missing a game-tying mid-range jumper over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the buzzer. The Celtics scored just 39 points in the second half as the Nuggets defense tightened up the screws defensively. Combined with the Celtics feeling the pressure a bit, the Nuggets performed well in the important moments on both ends of the floor.

 This had the feeling of a playoff game, and the Nuggets hadn’t won in Boston for a long, long time. That changed on Friday with an epic performance, beginning with their star duo.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were spectacular. Both ran the two-man game to absolute perfection, but it was their individual work while the other was resting that stood out even more. Jokic began the game isolating and posting up Kristaps Porzingis into oblivion, and the Celtics left their big man on an island hoping to play the percentages. Jokic finished the first quarter with 15 points and kept the Nuggets in the game while the Celtics were shooting the lights out.

The bench lineup around Jokic clearly wasn’t working, and it didn’t work for Murray either to begin the second quarter. Christian Braun was benched and only played five minutes while Justin Holiday played just three minutes to end the first quarter. The Nuggets didn’t even trust a backup center in this matchup, instead going to Aaron Gordon at the five for the minutes Jokic sat. Gordon played the entire second half, and although he struggled to shoot, he made enough hustle plays and defensive contests to make an impact while out there.

But the story for much of the rest of the game was Murray, who bounced back after a poor showing in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers. Murray played mad, and he played really, really well, scoring 35 points on 15-of-21 from the field. The degree of difficulty on the shotmaking was incredibly high, but Murray didn’t let the contests by Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, or Jaylen Brown bother him at all. Murray’s 35 points, eight rebounds, and five assists were absolutely essential, and he turned the ball over just one time against perhaps the best perimeter defense in the NBA.

 Not to be outdone, Jokic picked it up in all of the moments that Murray rested, staying aggressive against Porzingis, Al Horford, and anybody the Celtics switched onto him. That aggressiveness led to another Sombor Double of 34 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, but it was clear how impactful he was commanding the attention of the Celtics. Murray and others benefitted greatly.

Some of the touch on Jokic’s shots were absolutely ridiculous too, just finding his spot over and over again against tough matchups. It was his passes to Peyton Watson that helped get Denver some of those “extra” points though, which made all of the difference tonight.

Denver’s role players needed to find ways to stay impactful, and the other three starters certainly did. The aforementioned Gordon and KCP were essential defending Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The two Jay’s combined for just 35 points on 43 shots. While Denver’s entire defense gets credit there, it was Gordon and KCP that deserve the lion’s share of the credit, playing physical without fouling and turning up the intensity in the closing minutes.

Michael Porter Jr. had some errors throughout the night, but his ability to attack the offensive glass and earn some second chance points was also essential. The Nuggets don’t win this game without Porter’s offensive rebounding, and while it wasn’t his best game, he still found ways to contribute without getting jump shots or playmaking opportunities. It was the quintessential “I need to impact this game somehow” kind of performance, which has become easier for MPJ to accomplish over the years.

This was a tremendous response from the Nuggets after the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Not everybody played well, but the Nuggets brought the necessary energy and intensity to win in an impossible situation against the Celtics. Boston might be the best team in the NBA, and it took incredible performances from Denver’s stars to earn this win. The Celtics had other players step up to keep it close on their end, and the Nuggets will need a bench player or two to do the same next time these teams face each other.

Whatever the case, this could be an NBA Finals Preview, and if this is what ends up happening in June, sign me up for that series. What an epic showcase of talent and execution tonight.

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