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Summer League Highlights: Celtics fall 85-78 to Rockets

We have reached a point in Orlando’s Summer League where most coaches have pretty well figured out which of their players will make the training camp roster and which ones won’t. For the most part, coaches are giving their training camp players (eg. Olynyk, Iverson and Pressey) some time on the court while giving other players (eg. Fells, Granger and Hill) one last extended look and a chance to shine in front of international and D-League scouts.

The Celtics were no exception in an 85-78 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. If you care about such things, the loss put the Celtics in a three-way tie for third place with Miami and Utah. The problem is that Miami and Utah both have games tomorrow while the C’s have a day off, so unless both the Heat and the Jazz manage to lose every quarter of their games on Thursday, the Celtics will end up in fifth place at best with the potential to fall even farther if Indiana, Detroit or Orlando makes a final surge.

Does any of this matter? No, not really, except that the 4/5 game on Friday would be at 8 a.m., which just sounds unpleasant. So I’m all for an early start to the tanking.


Courtney Fells can jump extremely high, and Phil Pressey seems to enjoy doing flashy things. It was only a matter of time before these two connected to create a fun highlight together.


Mitchell had a rough game, and this play was no exception. It’s easy to lose yourself under the basket, but that doesn’t make it look any less ridiculous when you can clearly get high enough to score but you still put it short.

A few bullet points from yesterday’s loss:

  • Darius Johnson-Odom was not with the team, opting instead to travel and play with the Nuggets in Vegas. This was probably a good decision for him; with a crowded roster and Pressey hogging the solid point guard minutes, DJO was not likely to get a training camp invite from the Celtics anyway.
  • After a nice game on Tuesday, Tony Mitchell couldn’t find his range at all. His jumper was missing badly (including a couple of shots that didn’t reset the shot clock) and he went 0-4 from 3-point range.
  • Facing a couple of fairly athletic opponents in Tyler Honeycutt and Terrence Jones, Kelly Olynyk wasn’t as dominant as he has been in other games, in part due to his 3-point shooting. For whatever reason, several of Olynyk’s 3-point attempts (he was 0-5 for the game) were from the top of the key, which is one of the least efficient 3-pointers a player can take. Fortunately, this will be a pretty easy fix as Stevens is drawing up offensive gameplans.
  • I suspect that Jayson Granger is actually a much better player than he has seemed so far in Orlando, but I would feel better about him as a prospect if he used his left hand more often. By my count, in the second half, Granger went to his left on a drive just once (he was blocked out of bounds on the play). For the most part, his left hand seems to be used mostly as a transition back to his right before he drives.
  • From my game notes: “Why is Fab Melo?” I forgot what my original question was, but that four-word phrase kind of sums up Fab’s time in Orlando. We saw 10 very forgettable minutes from Melo on Wednesday.
  • Tim Abromaitis had a nice game, dropping 14 points and going 6-13 from the floor. He came up limping after one layup in transition, and it’s always a little frightening to see a player limp away with a giant leg brace on. The good new: He seemed to be fine, and he had an active, productive second half.
  • Pressey’s shot seemed off, and he took a couple of fall aways that I complained about yesterday in my breakdown of his game, but 10 assists in 25 minutes of a Summer League game is pretty impressive. Even better: Pressey knocked down a floater in the first half, which is going to be an essential shot for him to master at his size in the NBA.

The Celtics have Thursday off before they wrap up their Summer League stint on Friday. Enjoy the game, since it’s the last time we will see the team on the court until preseason.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • Vincent

    Danny Ainge's interview with Brad Stevens
    DA: Do you promise to play Fab Melo at least 20 mins per game? And if we're leading in the 4th quarter, he's on the floor, right?
    BS: Uhh, he's not very good
    DA: Have you seen that Wiggins kid play?
    BS: Can I get a 6th year on the deal?
    DA: Of course. Sign here

  • hax

    Maybe people will stop questioning if we aren't tanking when Jeff Green drops 55 on opening night.

    • And the Celtics lose by 15…

      • hax

        By the end of the season, Thunder fans will be crying at the loss of not just Harden, but Green. And they have Steve Adams & Kendrick Perkins to show for it. :p

        • Phil

          You're talking about a guy who will be 27 by the start of the season, averaged 13 points/4 rebounds last year, and was the fourth best player on the seven seed that lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. At some point you have to ignore the jersey and be realistic.

          Green can be a valuable player (in a vacuum at least, losing is valuable right now,) but he's still a long shot to outperform his contract, let alone make the Thunder think about him once before they lament Harden a couple hundred times.

          And man is that Perkins/Green trade shaping into the ultimate crap swap. I'd say the Thunder got the worst of the deal so far, but that will flip if the Cs re-sign Green to a terrible contract in three years.

          • Sophomore

            We'll see about Green. You can point to his annual number last year, which I'll agree wasn't exceptional, but it's very misleading. First, we all know Green improved dramatically about halfway through the year. Second, he spent a lot of time playing behind Paul Pierce for a coach who was trying to figure out how to use him. So cite the 13 and 4, but also cite his playoff production: 20 points and 5 boards, and a TS% of .530.

            Don't forget, too, there's a reason to think his slow start was the aberration. He was still recovering from open-heart surgery. We don't know if he can continue to play like he did at the end of last year, but if he can he'll be a solid player. Probably just short of an all-star, but clearly above average, and a guy who can be a starter on a team that goes deep in the playoffs.

          • Sophomore

            I should add – for all that I loved Perk's scowl and his attitude, he's clearly become an albatross for the Thunder. No question who's got more value right now.

          • Phil

            You can try to excuse his slow start, and he did play better towards the end of the year (the six game playoff sample is too small to mean anything though,) but he has years of underwhelming/disappointing numbers before that. There's just as much evidence that his strong finish was the outlier as the opposite. He'll score more than 13/4 with a higher usage rate/work load, but I also expect his efficiency to suffer since he's not a good shooter or passer. He put up a lot of those points last year against bench units or when teams were looking to stop two or three guys before him.

            Again, I'm not arguing that he can't improve; his 3pt shooting was better last year, and I thought his defense improved as well, but there's a huge chasm between useful player and the #1/2 option that fans seem to want him to be. Guys in the NBA don't make year 6 jumps. He can make improvements to his game, but he mostly is who he is. He's not a prospect, he's a veteran making a high market value salary.

            It's not too important now, but if you pay him like a top guy in three years, and he can't be that, you just shot your rebuilding self in the foot.

          • Sophomore

            As excuses go, open heart surgery's not bad. I expect most players with a decent work ethic (which includes Green) to keep improving until at least 27 or 28. I don't expect an all-star either, but I expect a solid offensive player who's also a plus on-ball defender.

          • Phil

            I agree with that. Expectations are gonna get untempered fast though. I expect him to do very well as the #1 guy on a tanking team. There are already people saying the Cs should be playoff contenders with just Rondo/Green, and his numbers may soon 'look' like a guy you could build around, whether they're fake or not.

          • check12check

            Actually, I'm really concerned about the idea of using Green as the focus of our offense. as an opportunity scorer and occasional iso player, he can really shine i think, but I don't think he can handle being the go to guy. I'm really doing nothing but mentioning points you have already brought to the attention of the forum before, but he is too limited in A. ball handling and B. passing to be operating as a point-forward. I hope he isn't thrown into this role, but he could be. it psuedo makes sense from 3 stand points. it allows him to 1. see if he can develop into that player 2. artificially raise value if he does an ok job at it, but not good enough that we think he is worth it or 3. help the celtics increase their chances in the wiggins sweepstakes

          • Phil

            Be careful about 2. The 4 year 36mil deal (with the accursed player option in year 4,) was panned by everyone after Ainge initially gave him that, and there are reports going back to the original Perkins trade that he valued Green as highly as Harden. There's a very good chance that Ainge values Green higher than any other GM or any of us, and I'm not sure if the next few years have any chance of changing that.

            Artificially raising his value for a trade would be great, artificially raising his salary for the contract that the Cs give him would not.

          • check12check

            completely agree. Like I said, I really don't think he can be "that guy" for our team

          • hydrofluoric

            Come on – they were both expiring contracts that year. Don't knock the swap; knock the ridiculous extensions afterward.

            What I see from the swap:

            OKC got much, much tougher and won their first two playoff series in franchise history and ran into a juggernaut in 2011 Dirk with prime Tyson Chandler anchoring the paint and Rick Carlisle calling the shots. On their way they had to get through a team that pounds the paint in Denver and a twin-towers team in Memphis.

            The Celtics got beaten in round 2, getting zero paint protection from Perk… and zero perimeter help/scoring from Green, too. This is a team against whom the Celtics were 3-0 in the regular season before the Perkins trade (though one of them came with Shaq), except they lost by 25 in the final regular season meeting and then carried that losing into the playoffs.

            Then both GMs overpaid on extensions – though the Perkins extension has looked worse with time and the Green one is looking a bit better at the moment.

          • Phil

            I am judging the trades by the extensions. OKC got the worst of it so far because their bad extension cost them James Harden, while the Cs can likely get out of the last year or two of the Green extension at some point if they want to. However, if the Cs end up handing out a bad long term contract to Green in three years…

            Perk showing up and OKC winning seems like correlation/causation to me. He surely added a good locker room presence and toughness, but they weren't going to lose forever with Durant/Westbrook/Harden/Ibaka. They probably would've gotten just as far without Perk that year, and they would've been better off without him (or more specifically, better with a coach who doesn't play him,) every year after that. He contributed a lot more than Green in that first year (Green was an unmitigated disaster his first year in Boston,) but I'd say it's a wash after that.

  • hax

    So you'd rather have max contract harden shooting 25/game than green udner 10 mill/pyear doing the same? D:

    • Phil

      If I was GM of a team and we were doing a fantasy draft of the entire league, I might pick James Harden 3rd (Lebron and Durant are one and two, but contracts/age come into play after that.) He's the most efficient scorer in the entire league, and he's only 23 (in fairness, he'll be 24 by the time the season starts.) He scored 26 points per game last year, and shot 44% while doing it on a team where he was the primary ball handler/focal point of opposing defenses. This was in the first year while dealing with that responsibility, 'and' he averaged 6 assists while doing it. Oh, and 2 rebounds a game more than Green.

      Harden's max deal (which starts next year, he's on the books for a ridiculous 5m right now,) is only around 15m. Or 6m more than Green. In no world is the difference in their production anywhere close to 6m. Who cares how many shots a game Harden takes? He took 17 a game last year to score 26 points. If he shot 25 times, he'd probably win the scoring title.

      There's nothing against Green there, he's just not in Harden's league. Harden is a superstar. Green is a bench piece right now aspiring to be more.

      • Phil

        It's also worth noting that flat FG% is a misleadingly bad way to look at Harden's efficiency. His TS% is at 60%, and his eFG is over 50%. His ability to shoot lights out from 3 and get to the free throw line is what makes him a top 10 player in the league.

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