The game was neck-and-neck throughout with the exception being towards the end of the third quarter when the 76ers built a 15 point lead. Good defense and some fortuitous shooting allowed the Celtics to bring it back in the fourth quarter and eventually win on a buzzer beater.
For a more detailed overview of the game, check out Michael DePrisco’s latest article.
Now, aside from being the first matchup in what has the potential to become basketball’s newest and most exciting rivalry, the game also featured a number of significant individual performances.
With that in mind, there are a fair number of takeaways to be had from this game.
Takeaways That’ll Make Boston Fans Float on Cloud Nine
Jaylen Brown, for one.
Brown was absolutely dominant in this game, finishing with 29 points on 63 percent shooting. He shot three-of-four from beyond the arc and looked confident stepping into long range shots. What’s more is that he seldom settled for anything, showcasing an improved handle and footwork as he carved up the opposing defense going to the rim. He looked to attack constantly and was frequently rewarded with trips to the charity stripe, finishing the game with 10 free throw attempts.
Also worth noting, he managed to pull down a team-high 13 rebounds.
It’s safe to say that Brown is the best player on Boston’s summer league roster, and could very well be the best player in summer league.
Also, Brown’s new running mate and probable member of Boston’s budding dynamic duo, Jayson Tatum, played really well.
Tatum recovered after a shaky start shooting the ball, finishing the game with 21 points on 47 percent from the field. He looked confident with the ball in his hands with almost all of his buckets coming off of isolation plays, including the eventual game-winning jump shot.
Shades of Paul Pierce, no?
Tatum also finished with seven rebounds and five steals. He moved his feet on defense and had really active hands, which is definitely a welcome sign as he isn’t really known for his defensive prowess.
And while Brown and Tatum stole the show, a few other Celtics quietly put up decent games and showed off their resourcefulness.
Ante Zizic played to expectations. He didn’t have a remarkable game, ending with only nine points and five rebounds, but he was quite effective at boxing out and clogging the lane, two assets which comprise an important part of his skillset. And contrary to what a lot of people were claiming, Zizic showed an outstanding motor on a few occasions, frequently beating his matchup down the floor and getting good position under the basket.
Abdel Nader seemingly got to the rim at will, showing off some ridiculously crafty dribbling ability. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Takeaways of the ‘Reality Check’ Variety
Despite all that the aforementioned players did right, there was almost just as much that they’ll need to improve on if they want to thrive during the regular season.
Brown’s outstanding game came in large part because of his newfound aggressiveness and apparent desire to just flat out embarrass the other team. But, at the same time, this often tipped into recklessness and engendered a lot of unforced errors. Brown ended with seven turnovers, a lot of them coming from the offensive fouls he committed.
Similarly, a singular desire to attack the rim when near the paint often blinded Zizic and led to plenty of really poor offensive possessions. Anytime Zizic caught the ball within a few steps of the basket he looked to get his own shot, mostly to the detriment of the team. It should also be noted that the times in which Zizic did run the floor hard were few and far between. He’ll have to get used to the pace in the NBA if he wants to truly become an impact player in the league.
Lastly, and this is the most concerning weakness yet, the Celtics shot horrifically from the free throw line, ending the game at 55 percent. This needs to change.
The Meaning of These Takeaways
Overall, Boston fans have a lot to be happy about.
The positive basketball skills that Brown, Tatum, Zizic, and Nader brought to the table far outweigh the few weaknesses they showed. To be fair to the players, a lot of the aforementioned weaknesses are likely symptoms of playing in summer league, where the prevailing sentiment is largely individualistic as opposed to collective.
Move Brown to the regular season and we can be fairly sure he’ll find the sweet spot between playing aggressively and playing timidly, looking to score within the team dynamic.
Move Zizic to the regular season and his tunnel vision should dissipate to a certain extent as he won’t have to force shots in a floundering attempt to showcase his offensive ability.
Give this entire squad more playing time and a chance to work their jitters out and they should improve that free throw percentage. Hopefully, at least.
All in all, the young Celtics on this summer league roster showed what they can do. As the guys get more reps in summer league, they should look even better.