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The Celtics wrapped up Summer League play in Las Vegas tonight finishing (4-1) in the Sin City, after finishing the Utah Summer League (1-2). Though the Celtics looked impressive despite their record in Utah, when the lights got brighter, the young C’s turned it up a notch and the Celtics delivered quite a show in Vegas. Highlighted by Jayson Tatum’s silky turnaround jumpers, and Jaylen Brown posters, the Summer League gave fans a good taste of whats to come for this exciting young nucleus.
The Summer League for Boston all started in Salt Lake City where they were already engaged in an intense battle against Utah before the first game tipped off. The battle of Gordon Hayward. To further add to the Summer League hype, game one was against none other than the 76ers, and the No. 1 pick that everyone thought would be dawning green right now, Markelle Fultz. This would also be the first time the Celtics saw their young wings that would briefly go by the nickname 7/11 (later to be destroyed by Tatum’s jersey switch to #0), Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, on the floor together for the first time.
Utah Summer League Game 1: Boston Celtics – Philadelphia 76ers
While Markelle Fultz was impressive in his own right with 17 easy points, and did a solid job running the offense, it was 7/11 who stole the show. Jaylen Brown was relentless leading the way with 29 points/13 rebounds and reminded everyone just how scary good he can become. But not to be outdone in his Summer League debut, Jayson Tatum put up 21 points/7 rebounds, giving fans a taste of his post moves, and his dynamic scoring ability. Tatum also delivered the game winning shot on a smooth, deep, straight up two point jumper over his defender, to give the Celtics their first victory of Summer League beating the Sixer 89-88.
Utah Summer League Game 2: Boston Celtics – San Antonio Spurs
The Celtics looked to come out a little flat in this one, and suffered the consequences. Running the offense through Brown/Tatum due to Demetrius Jackson sitting, the Celtics didn’t have a true point guard and it showed. Brown only had 6 points/8 rebounds to go along with 2 assists and 4 turnovers. Tatum on the other hand had himself quite a night scoring 23 points, on a couple nice dunks and with his smooth turn around fade away jumper, while also grabbing 8 rebounds. 2016 2nd round pick, and 2016 G-League Rookie of the Year (2016 2nd round pick) Abdel Nader also chipped in 14 points. But it wasn’t enough as the Spurs Bryn Forbes’ wouldn’t be stopped, scoring 31 points, giving the Celtics their first loss 81-70.
Utah Summer League Game 3: Boston Celtics – Utah Jazz
After the Celtics had just signed Hayward away in free agency locking him up to a 4 year max deal, the Jazz fans were desperate for a victory against the now hated Celtics. In a very low scoring game, and with Jaylen Brown resting, the Celtics had a more balanced approach. It was Nader who led the way, leading all scorers with 17 points, while Jayson Tatum notched his first double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. First year players Ante Zizic (2016 1st Round Pick) and Jabari Bird (2017 2nd Round Pick) also chipped in with 9 points of their own. The C’s gave a good effort but came up short as the Jazz get their W in a low scoring close one, 63-60, behind 4th year player Dante Exum’s 16 points.
After leaving Utah a disappointing 1-2, the Celtics knew they had to be better in Vegas. Like the first game in Utah, the first Las Vegas Summer League game for the Celtics was being hyped up well before the ball even tipped off. That’s because it featured the best rivalry in the NBA, the Celtics and Lakers. It also featured the No. 2 pick in the draft Lonzo Ball vs. the No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum, and both would have games that would show why they were picked where they were.
Las Vegas Summer League Game 1: Boston Celtics – Los Angeles Lakers
This game featured the best rivalry in the NBA, on top of the No. 2 pick in the draft Lonzo Ball vs. the No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum. Neither would disappoint in this one, as both put on a show. Ball was impressive and lead the Lakers with a triple double on 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists while silencing some critics by doing so. The real bright spot for the Lakers was recently acquired, Kyle Kuzma (2017 Nets first round pick #27 overall), with 31 points to go with 9 rebounds. Kuzma was all over the place raining down jumpers and hit 5 3P’s. Jayson Tatum however would not be outshined. The rookie scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, hit a buzzer beater three at the end of the 3rd quarter, and absolutely feasted in the post. 2017 2nd round pick Semi Ojeleye showed his versatility on defense, guarding 1-5 at times, and also was a force in the pick in pop game, hitting 5 3P’s himself and scoring 19 points. Abdel Nader once again had a solid night scoring 14 points to go with 7 rebounds. Jaylen Brown struggled a little bit in this one, but still chipped in 11 points, as the Celtics won 86-81 for their first Vegas win. Summer League or not, it’s always a sweet feeling in Boston when the Celtics beat LA.
Las Vegas Summer League Game 2: Boston Celtics – Portland Trailblazers
Las Vegas Summer League game two for the Celtics was against the Portland Trail Blazers. Much like game 3 of the Utah Summer League the Celtics came out with a more balanced approach in this one as six different players scored 8+ points. The No. 3 picks were the only two players to score in double figures for the Celtics, with Jaylen Brown scoring 13 points to go with 8 rebounds and an absolutely nasty backdoor poster over two defenders (see below), and Tatum scoring 11 points while grabbing 7 rebounds himself. First year players, Ante Zizic and Jabari Bird (2017 2nd round pick) both had nice games, each scoring 9 points, while Zizic grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 4 shots as well. Second year guard Demetrius Jackson, who was playing for a roster spot, chipped in 8 points. The Trailblazers were led by first round pick (No. 26 overall) Big Ten player of the year, Caleb Swanigan, as the big man had 13 points/7 rebounds. Massachusetts’s own, and 2016 first round pick, Pat Connaughton also scored 11 for Portland but to no prevail as Boston takes the W 70-64.
Las Vegas Summer League Game 3: Boston Celtics – Philadelphia 76ers
The first game between Boston and Philly was filled with excitmend. In the rematch however, the game wouldn’t look anything like the first one. With Fultz spraining his ankle earlier in the Las Vegas Summer League, the 76ers swiftly, and smartly, shut him down for the rest of Summer League. So with no Fultz, Philly had to rely on 2nd year 2016 first round Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to carry the way. Luwawu-Cabarrot had 16 points to lead the Sixers, and Jonah Bolden (2017 2nd round pick) chipped in with 13 points, while undrafted Maryland guard Melo Trimble also had 13 himself in only 13 minutes. The biggest story from the Celtics in this game was Jaylen Brown injuring his thigh in the first half. Though it was just a minor injury and there’s nothing to worry about, the Celtics shut their prized 2016 No. 3 overall pick down for the rest of Summer League. With Abdel Nader resting, Boston needed someone to step up and that someone just so happened to be 2017 2nd rounder Jabari Bird. Bird co-lead the Celtics in points, matching Tatum’s 15, while delivering a nasty putback dunk. For a guard Bird can really fly, no pun intended. Celtics second year guard (2016 2nd round pick) Demetrius Jackson, had his best game of the summer with 14 points/4 assists, as did Ante Zizic posting his first NBA double-double with 12 points/13 rebounds in just 17 short minutes. The young Celtics beat the shorthanded Sixers in this one 88-83 to move to 3-0 in Las Vegas Summer League play. This win earned them the #6 seed (out of 24 teams) in the Vegas playoffs, and a first round bye.
Las Vegas Summer League Game 4 (Playoffs Round 2): Celtics – Warriors
The Celtics sat Jaylen Brown (Right Thigh), Abdel Nader (Strained Left Calf), and Jayson Tatum (Right Patellar Tendonitis), for this meaningless Summer League Playoff game, making it a whole lot less exciting. Unlike during the regular season matchups between these two teams, this game clearly lacked star power, and it showed. The Warriors were held to 5 points in the first quarter by the Celtics, which is a Summer League defensive record. After that it was tough for the Warriors to get anything going, with 2016 2nd round draft steal Patrick McCaw providing essentially all of their offense scoring 20 points. Bryce Alford also chipped in with 11 points as well. Boston on the other hand had no problem scoring despite sitting their star wings. For the second game in a row Jabari Bird put on a show scoring 17, and Zizic built on his previous performance with another double-double scoring 14 with 11 rebound to go with it. But it was the undrafted journeyman Rosco Allen who led the Celtics in scoring in this one with 18 points in lots of garbage time. Demetrius Jackson and Semi Ojeleye each contributed with 9 points in just 17 and 19 minutes respectively. Celtics moved on in the playoffs to play the Mavericks in the quarterfinals.
Las Vegas Summer League Game 5 (Playoff Quarterfinals): Celtics – Mavericks
The Celtics announced the signings of Semi Ojeleye and Abdel Nader to 4 year deals before this game. Doing so meant that Demetrius Jackson wasn’t making the 15 man roster, and lead to him getting cut. So the Celtics were down a point guard heading into this one, and once again sat Brown, Tatum, and Nader, and also sat Ante Zizic (left hamstring) for this one as well. No Jackson really hurt against the good young guard duo made up of Yogi Ferrell, and my Rookie of the Year pick Dennis Smith Jr (2017 first round #9 overall). Though Smith didn’t have a good game only scoring 3 points in 15 minutes, second year undrafted guard Yogi Ferrell had 20 points to go with 5 assists. The Celtics for the second straight game, were lead by Rosco Allen who had 12 points. Also chipping in for the C’s was Scott Wood, and Terran Petteway who each had 10. Second round picks Kadeem Allen, Semi Ojeleye, and Jabari Bird scored 9/6/6 points, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Celtics were just too shorthanded. In the final Summer League game for the Celtics they lose to the Mavs 91-74.
Overall Summer League 2017 was a very positive one for the Celtics and showed that the past two drafts Danny has found some real gems. Jaylen Brown was impressive on both ends when he wanted to be, but can definitely still work on his handle and improve his overall feel of the game. Jayson Tatum erased any doubt that he was deserving of the No. 3 pick and showed why people are dubbing him as “The Truth 2.0”. Tatum lead the Celtics in scoring over summer play with 18 ppg and also rebounded the ball better than expected. Ante Zizic looked a little drained from a long Euro season, but still showed he has solid skills for a 20 year old big, and that he can really rebound the ball. Semi Ojeleye impressed Brad Stevens enough for Stevens to say that he is already one of Bostons best defenders, and also showed he can be a lethal threat in the pick and pop game with his 3 point shot. Abdel Nader also had a solid summer scoring 14 ppg, and showing why he was D-League Rookie of the Year, though I’m sure fans wish he would pass more. The Celtics coaches, and fans, have to be thrilled with the performance of their young nucleus. Basically every young player mentioned in this paragraph will help the Celtics in one way or another this year, not to mention 2016 first rounder Guerschon Yabusele who didn’t play. The future is very very bright for this core, and it’s scary to think that next Summer League we could be watching two top 5 prospects in green on top of this roster. What a time to be a Celtics fan!!
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(All videos obtained via NBA.com)