Browse Archives by:

Vegas First Impressions: Celtics Dominate Hawks in 87-69 Win

The Celtics kicked things off in Las Vegas with a bang Monday afternoon, shaking off a brutal offensive start in the first quarter in a big way to cruise to a 87-69 win over the Atlanta Hawks, who may have one of the worst summer league rosters out there. Plenty of balance from the troops after they started the game just 1-of-10 from the field, giving us some ugly basketball for the first six minutes of the contest. The flood gates opened after that though, as Boston hit 16 of their next 28 shots, helping them pull away from the lackluster Hawks. Let’s get to the players.


Fab Melo – There will be plenty written about the Brazilian big man over the course of the summer, but he played some of his best basketball in a summer league uniform today. Seven points, five rebounds, a nifty assist in the lane and a charge drawn in 18 minutes of action won’t lead Sportscenter, but was enough of a flash to catch everyone’s eye in the gym. Coach Ty Lue called it the best basketball he has played thus far in green. There will be plenty of growing pains for Melo this summer and beyond, but the kind of potential he displayed today showed why the C’s took a chance on him at 22 in the first round.

Jared Sullinger’s Rebounding and Toughness – Seven more boards today in 24 minutes, to go along with eight free throw attempts. Sullinger is undersized playing center in this league, but he makes up for it using his body incredibly well near the basket. He welcomes contact when the ball is in his hands, and has the craftiness to get his defender in the air and get a good shot off despite getting fouled. His rebounding prowess has been well documented all summer long and showed itself again today. It will do wonders for his playing time if he can maintain it once he starts playing with the big boys.

Dionte Christmas Doing Everything – The guy tore it up in Orlando, pushing the Celtics to have them bring him back for this week and he has picked up where he left off. Not a great shooting outing (4-of-10), but 11 points, five rebounds, two steals, two assists and plenty of heads-up plays on both sides of the floor. By the end of this week, I think at the least Christmas will have a training camp invite from Boston and I wouldn’t rule out a one-year guaranteed deal eventually as well, based on how many other suitors he has lining up for his services. He’s been that good.

Kris Joseph – Jump shot wasn’t going down early, but he stayed aggressive attacking the basket, before finding his range from deep as the game progressed. Tied a team-high with 14 points.

No-Name Guards – Jonathan Gibson and Jamar Smith combine with 5-of-7 from three-point range. Not real threats to make the team (barring a big trade) but still a good way to get noticed.


JaJuan Johnson – Part of the reason might be the fact that he’s surrounded by so much talent out there, making it hard for him to stand out, but the more I see of the guy, the less I feel like he’ll ever be a factor in this team’s rotation. He’s not being assertive on the offensive end (besides one nice dunk) and the rebounding is a big step below Sullinger. The defense isn’t solid either. He’ll be buried in the depth chart in Boston if he’s not traded in the coming days in a deal for Jason Terry.

Sullinger getting blocked a lot – It’s happening plenty already, and his lack of athleticism means we will be seeing more of it when the real games begin. Be prepared.

John Jenkins – Atlanta’s first round pick did nothing to stand out. Inconsistent shooting (5-of-14), lots of turnovers (4), no real top-notch skills that stood out in his game.

Coach Lue’s Corner (A collection of postgame quotes from summer league coach Ty Lue)

On Melo: “I thought today was his best first half that he’s played the whole summer league. He’s getting better and better, you know, calling out the coverage. I thought he was great on help when guys were getting beat on penetration. Took a charge. Blocked a couple shots. I just thought he was in the right spot a lot in the first half.

On JaJuan Johnson: “JaJuan Johnson is a pick and pop player. He can post. But in the summer league it’s hard. If he’s playing with Rondo, or KG, or Paul, he’s going to get open shots, pick and pops, he’s going to get easy little duck ins … in summer league it’s kind of hard to look for him to score because he’s not going to really do that during the regular season. Just want him to work on his defense, showing, getting back, second effort, stuff like that. Just got to get him better at that because that’s what it’s going to take for him to play this year coming up.”

On Christmas: “Oh, he’s been great. We know he’s been a scorer all his life. Just seeing him come out and make the right pass. Playing hard. Defense. Rebounding the ball. He’s doing everything. Those are the type of players that you want … So i think he’s been playing great, he’s been playing the right way, and definitely he’s been really working.”

Plenty more coming from the players from Hayes and myself over the coming days. Next up for the C’s: a matchup with Leon Powe and the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night at 10pm ET/7pm pacific

  • Phil

    Part of Jenkins' bad day can probably be attributed to part of Dionte Christmas' good day. Christmas had him smothered pretty much whenever the two were out there. I've liked what I've seen from Christmas on the defensive end as much as the offensive.

    Definitely a good game for Melo too. I've been critical of the pick and him, but he looked like he might be able to play a few minutes in the NBA, and that's more than I can say about JaJuan Johnson. I know its dangerous to read into summer league, but his poor showing here has really turned my opinion. He doesn't do anything at an average level except shoot seventeen footers. At this point, I'm just hoping they deal JJJ at this point to clear up a roster spot. I'd rather have Joseph and Christmas instead.

    Joseph continues to look good. He looks really natural coming off of screens and moving without the ball. He needs to make a few more of his shots, but I really like how he's looked.

  • zach

    wow, Sully and Melo look really good. Melo may actually have more long term potential, but both should be solid 6 – 8th rotation guys in short order. If we get David Lee and stay healthy we could be great next year, especially if Rondo finally makes the leap to consistent all NBA level guy, which I think he will this year. We are one Miami heat injury away from the finals.

    • zach

      meant to say Courtney Lee not David Lee!

      • Vince

        We should get Bruce Lee while you're at it :)

        • The Cardinal

          Maybe Stan Lee, too? He can drag along Mr. Fantastic as a center!

  • James

    I thought JJJ had a couple of decent showings late in Orlando and thought he'd really come here and break out but he just wasn't assertive enough. I think the lockout last year and then getting buried on the bench really has killed his confidence.
    Watching Melo in that first half was so exciting, it may take a little while for him to really develop but i think he's already shown why the risk of taking him 22nd may pay off. Loved some of his hustle and the scoring plays.
    Sullinger despite his lack of height looks like he's ready to use his body and size to become a decent back up on this years team.
    The guys like christmas, gibson etc look pretty good too.

    • LACelticFan

      I like what Coach Lue said regarding Johnson, and really hope he doesn't get dealt. I would rather Danny trade away our 1st rounder next year, as the team is really going to be set for at least another 4 years. Having Johnson there increases our depth up front.

  • smalltownID


    • liberty or death


  • High Rollers

    Good to know Sully might work in spot starts down the road, you know, late in the season when guys have random ailments and could use a night off. Late season W’s are such a luxury, Mr. Consistent could make all the difference between a one/two/three seed and a four/five/six seed.

    • James

      I agree, Sully looks like a guy that could put up an efficient 15/8 every night without really dominating, but just by going about his business. Those are the kind of guys you really need late in the season/when guys go down with injuries. I really like what he's doing.
      As for the possibility of Johnson and Moore getting traded, I hope it doesn't happen cause I like both kids, and I think both have potential, but maybe if the right deal comes along? I dunno…

  • SteveB

    I'm not sure why we continue to want JJJ on this team. We all root for him because he was drafted by the Celtics and is a Celtic. Despite that, he has a long way to go in the NBA. I know a lot of it is the position(s) he's trying to play but I can't even point to his strength, not sure what it is. After watching Kris Joseph at Syracuse often appear reluctant he has shown me the things I want to see from JJJ. Even if it was just getting rebounds and playing solid defense I would be happy. At this point I think the team would let him go if not for that guaranteed contract. I think Moore and Joseph can become second round steals in the league. Both are mature players that know how to play and how to score. Joseph's weak side rebounding reminds me of Pietrus at times. Can't wait for the season to start.

  • CG12

    If the C's could trade JJJ and/or Moore for someone of real value, even as a 8th – 10th guy, I'd be all for it. Moore seems like he could be a capable 5th guard, with some ability to play both guard spots, but that's about it. He isn't terrible, but he has very little upside. JJJ needs to figure out what he is going to be in this league and put everything he has into doing that. Being no better than average at anything will get you on the fast track to out of the league. Right now it sure looks like he will ultimately give the C's nothing. I'd rather see Sullinger and Melo ahead of him.

  • zach

    Sully's ceiling = poor man's Kevin Love, his floor = Kurt Thomas? His game does not remind me of Baby's as much as I thought it would. He is polished in the post and I think bigger than Baby in terms of arm length, hands, and maybe height. Also, let's not forget if Baby were not a Baby he could be a very good NBA player! He was in the running for 6th man of the year 2 years ago

  • High Rollers

    If you fall on a spectrum between Kevin Love (high talent, high skill) and Kurt Thomas (dependable big man, utility, longevity) … then I think you're doin' alright. We'll see.

  • High Rollers

    So when Kobe says the most satisfying win was against the four hall of famers of the '10 Celtics' squad, who is the fourth? Is he including 'Sheed … or already putting Rondo in that class? Either way it's intriguing. He's still full of it, generally speaking, but he's good at stirring up historical (basketball) debates. Even before the history is written. I personally wouldn't be one bit surprised if the playoff triple-double machine makes it. But there's still some work to do.

    • zach

      is Sheed a HOF player? I don't think so but would have to look back at the numbers. Rondo has a chance to be but would have to keep doing what he is doing at the same level or higher for the next 5 years (which could happen if he stays healthy – his guard skills are filthy!).

  • liberty or death

    kris jospeh > jjj, moore

  • smalltownID

    Why didn't etwaun play yesterday?

    • liberty or death

      most likely due to the fact that he's garbage.