February 04, 2015

Isaiah Thomas has ignited a turnaround for the Boston Celtics, and they may be able to maintain their home dominance over their next opponent if he remains hot.

The surging Celtics look to improve on an already sparkling mark in Boston against the Denver Nuggets when the two meet at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Boston (25-21) has won two straight and four of the last six in this series, three of those coming as host to extend a impressive home stretch against Denver (17-28).

The Celtics have won the last five meetings in Boston and 21 of 24 dating to 1990. The Nuggets are 3-16 at TD Garden since it opened its doors for the 1995-96 season.

However, the final two games of Boston's current three-game win streak came on the road at Philadelphia and Washington. After dismantling the 76ers 112-92 on Sunday, Thomas led the Celtics to a 116-91 rout of the Wizards the next night.

The 5-foot-9 lefty shooter won a marquee point guard matchup against the Wizards' John Wall, logging his sixth straight 20-point game by finishing with 23 to go with nine assists in three quarters. Wall had 10 assists, but he turned the ball over four times and scored just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Thomas has averaged 25.4 points and 6.4 assists in his last 10 games, helping Boston win six of the final eight.

"You always are excited when you're a guy like Isaiah who's got a chip on his shoulder to challenge himself against the best," said coach Brad Stevens, whose team has won three straight home games. "But I think Isaiah's pretty consistent regardless of who we're playing in how he approaches every night."

The Nuggets don't have the same All-Star caliber point guard, especially with Jameer Nelson missing the last five games with a sprained left wrist, and Thomas scored 33 points the last time he faced them while with Sacramento in February 2014.

The Celtics went cold offensively at 40.5 percent shooting while averaging 98.3 points in seven games Dec. 27-Jan. 10, but they've hit 45.7 percent in nine games since while averaging 112.6 points - short of only Golden State's 117.1 from Jan. 12-25.

While Boston will try to match a season-best winning streak set exactly one month ago, Denver is trying to avoid sinking into another lull.

The Nuggets have enjoyed positive stretches this season, logging wins in four of six, four of five and five of six games, but it's the long droughts that have hurt them: losses in four of five and nine of 10 along with an eight-game losing skid.

They dropped three of their final four on an eight-game homestand to negate a positive start. Denver had opened its longest home stretch of the season with wins in three of four, including a 112-110 victory over NBA-leading Golden State on Jan. 13.

Monday's flat 119-105 loss to Atlanta closed the 4-4 homestand on a down note before the Nuggets play eight of the next 10 on the road - where they've lost five of six.

"It's definitely frustrating only going .500 (on the homestand)," said Will Barton, who scored a team-high 21 points against the Hawks. "We did some good things but we've got to figure out how to bring it every night."

Denver has followed a solid five-game defensive stretch in which it allowed an average of 93.0 points on 41.8 percent shooting by surrendering 111.6 on 49.4 percent over its last five.

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