Game of the year taking place in Denver Thursday night as juggernauts collide

Jan 19, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) works for the ball
Jan 19, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) works for the ball / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The two favorites to win the 2024 NBA championship will face off in Denver on Thursday night as the Boston Celtics come to Ball Arena to take on the Nuggets. The Nuggets are defending champions, currently sitting at 42-20, a game out of first place in the Western Conference.

Nikola Jokic is leading the Nuggets, as the reigning Finals MVP is favored to win his third league MVP award in four years. He’s currently averaging 25.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game on the season.

Celtics historic dominance

The Celtics boast the NBA’s best record by a wide margin at 48-13. They lead the Eastern Conference by 8 games and appear to be cruising to the one seed. Boston also has the league’s best Net rating at 11.3, which is one of the best net ratings in NBA history. They’re first in the league in offense and second in defense.

They’re led by their 26-year-old MVP candidate, Jayson Tatum who’s averaging 27.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game on the season. Tatum is flanked by All-NBA teammate Jaylen Brown (who's questionable with a pelvis injury) on the wing to form a deadly combo of two-way wings.

The Celtics also have a stout two-way backcourt with two of the best defensive guards in the league Derrick White and Jrue Holiday. And new addition, and former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, who’s playing arguably the best basketball of his career, rounds out the starting lineup. 

As if that wasn’t enough, they bring potential Hall-of-Famer Al Horford off the bench. The Celtics are loaded with talent inside and out and have been dominating the league on both ends of the court. 

Ironically, both teams enter the game coming off a tough loss on Tuesday night. The Celtics had their 11-game winning streak snapped in Cleveland after blowing a 22-point fourth-quarter lead. The Nuggets saw their six-game winning streak end at home at the hands of Kevin Durant and the Suns in overtime.

It’s fair to wonder if each team was looking ahead, with one eye on the other and Thursday night’s heavyweight battle. Hopefully, this game lives up to the hype and we get the show we want to see. That was the case when the teams met in January, when the Nuggets won one of the most intense games of the season, 102-100 in Boston.

Clash of the titans

This will be their only other meeting, as the Nuggets look to sweep the season series. It’s a great measuring stick opportunity for both teams to see where they stand and try to make a statement to the rest of the league. The Nuggets are currently 1.5-point favorites in this possible NBA Finals preview.

It was also announced on Wednesday that the Nuggets and Celtics have been selected to participate in the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2024. They’ll square off in two preseason games in early October in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city.