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LAS VEGAS – Winning is the golden ticket.
That’s the mindset that the Summer Celtics are taking into the tournament stage of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Tuesday marks the final day of preliminary play for each of the 30 teams taking part in the league. Each team plays three preliminary games, and some, like the Celtics, have already completed that stretch.
Following the completion of the preliminary round, all 30 teams will be seeded into a tournament, with the eventual champion being crowned Monday night.
Boston wants to play in that championship game, and it has shown thus far in Vegas that it has the talent to make such a run.
These Summer C’s are a talented group of individuals who are all seeking to find a niche in the NBA. From secure players such as Guerschon Yabusele, who has a guaranteed contract, to undrafted and unsigned free agents like Justin Bibbs, everyone on this team is searching to prove that they deserve a job and a role in the NBA.
The best way to secure those jobs and those roles, in their minds, is by playing as a team and winning in Las Vegas.
“That’s how we all get what we need,” said Semi Ojeleye. “I think there’s guys on NBA rosters, guys not on rosters, guys looking to sign a contract, so I think the way we all get exactly what we want is if we win. That’s how we stay here longer, and that’s how we show teams that we’re winners, and I think that’s what every GM or coach wants.”
To their credit, this group of Celtics has done a great job of showcasing the ability to blend together and win.
Boston stands at 2-1 after three games, and its lone loss felt like a bit of an aberration. The team scored an average of 97.0 points per game during its two victories, all while limiting its opponents to just 37.5 percent shooting from the field. During its lone loss, its offense sputtered to only 69 points.
The Celtics’ consistent effort at both ends of the court has the team sitting as the sixth seed out of 30 teams as the final day of preliminary action is set to begin Tuesday afternoon. The C’s are in solid position to earn a bye during the first round of the tournament stage, depending on what happens during Tuesday’s game.
Yabusele, who is averaging 12.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG through three contests, believes that the C’s have come a long way in Vegas in regard to becoming a true team that can compete at a high level. He saw where they were when they came together for practice for the first time July 1, and he sees where they are now in Las Vegas.
“We kind of know what everybody’s strengths are now,” he said Tuesday morning, before the team practiced at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas. “We’re trying to make less mistakes on the court, play with each other, make plays for each other, and just try to be the best team we can be on the court.
“Right now, we’re doing a pretty good job, and we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
If that happens, the Summer Celtics may have a lengthy stay in Vegas. And if that happens, these players know that they’ll have made an impression upon every player, coach and executive around the league who is watching.
“Everybody realizes that we want to win,” said Ojeleye, “and if we win, that’s how we’ll get what we get out of this.”
In other words, winning is the golden ticket to the careers of these players.