Summer C’s Maintain Scorching Pace in 20-Point Win Over Philly
The Summer Celtics reached triple digits in the scoring column with just 37 seconds to spare in Saturday night’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers after K.J. Lawson knocked down a 3-pointer to put the stamp on a 100-80 victory on Las Vegas.
Hitting the century mark, of course, is a walk in the park during an ordinary NBA game, but it’s a rare feat to pull off during the Summer League’s 40-minute exhibitions.
These Celtics, however, are proving to be an exception to that trend.
After opening its summer action with an 85-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Boston has now reached or surpassed the 100-point mark in three straight games, including a 107-82 win over Denver, a 108-71 victory over Orlando which included a Summer League record 33 assists, and its most recent 20-point victory over Philly.
To put into perspective how exceptional of an achievement that is, the Celtics have accounted for exactly half of the league’s six 100-point games thus far. They are 3-for-4 in that aspect, while the rest of the teams were 3-for-94 combined at the time of Saturday night’s final buzzer.
As a result of their offensive superiority, the Celtics will likely find themselves in Tuesday night’s championship game, which will feature the two teams with the best records through four games. If there are more than two 4-0 teams, the tiebreaker will be based on average margin of victory, of which the Celtics own an absurd mark of 21.0 points.
What has made Boston’s dominance so incredible is the fact that it can be attributed to the efforts of so many different players. A lot of the spotlight has fallen on leading scorers Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard. However, Saturday’s blowout win didn’t even feature Pritchard, the league’s second-leading assister, who had left Vegas for another commitment.
Stepping into the lead ball-handling role was Carsen Edwards, who put up 16 points and a game-high seven assists to go along with five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
“Carsen made the right play every time,” Summer League head coach Joe Mazzulla remarked. “I told him after the game how proud I was of him doing that. He knew when to shoot it and when to get his teammates involved, and he made the right reads. It was awesome to watch and I’m really happy for him.”
There was also plenty to be happy about with Romeo Langford’s aggressiveness in a 13-point effort, Zach Auguste’s breakout in a game-high 18-point performance, and Bruno Fernando’s all-around energy in a nine-point, 11-rebound, three-assist showing.
Each game has featured a different player stepping up, whether it was Yam Madar in Game 1, Nesmith in Game 2, Sam Hauser in Game 3, and Pritchard – well – just about every time he’s stepped on the floor.
Such widespread success can be attributed to the overall mentality and hunger of the team, says Mazzulla.
“They’re good players, really good players, and they are aligned, and they buy into what’s important,” the third-year C’s assistant explained. “I think all of them, being at different points in their careers, are hungry to achieve something, whether that’s development, or everybody is looking for affirmation in something. I think these guys just want to know they are good players and they can play in the NBA.”
What’s remarkable is that these players have been able to prove their individual worth, while also playing team ball. They’ve averaged 25.5 assists per game, which would equate to 30.6 APG at a 48-minute rate.
“It’s a big emphasis for us,” Nesmith said of the ball movement. “It's mainly just playing together, that's the main thing that we always talk about. We don't necessarily say we have to move the ball, but we are big on making the extra pass and just playing together and cheering for your teammates. And so, just playing for each other, that's how you happen to get all these assists.”
Having such a mentality has allowed the Summer Celtics to dominate the competition thus far. As a result, they find themselves all but locked into one of the spots in Tuesday's championship game.