Nuggets To Clash With Celtics

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Boston Celtics have no shortage of players they can give the ball to with the game on the line.

They also don't seem to be lacking coaches who can give their stars a chance to make clutch shots.

Doc Rivers returns to the sideline for the Celtics after a one-game absence, taking the reins back for a team coming off a thrilling win as it hosts the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Rivers is back running the Celtics (2-0) after missing a 98-95 overtime win over Toronto on Sunday. He left the team early that day after his father died in Chicago.

Assistant Tom Thibodeau replaced Rivers on Sunday, and came up with the play that got the ball to Ray Allen for the winning 3-pointer with less than 3 seconds to play. The Celtics' "Big Three" of Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce gives the team plenty of options in clutch situations.

"A lot has been said about this team, what's going to happen at the end of games, who's going to take that shot," Allen said. "It's a joy to be out there offensively and for the coach to be able to draw up a play and there's three options."

Boston could certainly use a big game from its star trio as it faces Denver (2-2) and its dynamic offense in what could be one of the most talent-laden matchups in the league this season.

The Nuggets feature Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby, who will be vital to Denver's hopes of stopping Garnett. Anthony, meanwhile, is expected to match up with Pierce extensively at small forward.

Garnett scored 10 of his 23 points in overtime Sunday and added 13 rebounds, giving him double-doubles in both of his games for Boston. He is averaging 23.8 points, 14.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.6 blocks in his last six games against the Nuggets.

Allen, who made 11 of 16 shots Sunday, surpassed 17,000 points for his career with his first of two 3-pointers in overtime. He has 17,004 career points, 44 of which came in a loss to Denver on Jan. 23, when he was with Seattle.

The Nuggets enter this matchup following their second straight loss, 119-112 to New York on Tuesday night in their first trip to Madison Square Garden since last year's brawl.

Denver lost despite getting 32 points from Iverson, and shooting a season-best 50 percent (43-for-86) from the field. Iverson, second on the Nuggets with 26.0 points per game, is averaging 33.7 in his last seven games against the Celtics.

Anthony, meanwhile, is averaging 39.0 points in his last two games against Boston. He's leading the Nuggets with 27.3 points per game this season.

Denver is expected to have forward Kenyon Martin back for this contest after he sat out Tuesday's game. The Nuggets don't want to use Martin in back-to-back games while he works his way back from knee surgery.

These clubs split their two meetings in 2006-07, with the home team winning each time.