The Boston Celtics had an exhilarating start to Summer League Sunday afternoon, as they overcame some early shooting struggles to sneak past the Atlanta Hawks with an 85-83 win in Las Vegas.
The Celtics missed their first eight field-goal attempts of the game, which enabled Atlanta to get off to a 10-0 start. However, Boston found its rhythm midway through the first quarter, turning the game around with a 17-2 run.
In a fight to the finish, Romeo Langford came through by knocking down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining before 2021 second-round pick Juhann Begarin stole Atlanta’s ensuing inbounds pass to seal the deal.
Aside from the thrilling ending, there were plenty of takeaways to unpack throughout the 40-minute exhibition, which we have highlighted below.
Aggressive Pritchard Showed off Extended Range
Payton Pritchard does not look like he belongs in the Summer League based on his performance from Sunday afternoon, and we mean that in the best way possible. He was the most impressive player on the court as he shot the leather off the ball, knocking down 7-of-15 from 3-point range en route to a game-high 23-point effort.
And not only did he shoot well from long range; he shot it well from lonnnnng range, as he canned a handful of shots from way beyond the arc, including one from logo distance.
We know it’s only a one-game sample size, but the aggression that Pritchard showed from start to finish was a promising sign for the second-year point guard, especially knowing how the C’s are likely going to rely on him to be a significant scoring contributor this coming season.
Madar Was the Spark Plug in C’s Turnaround
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding 2020 second-round draft pick Yam Madar heading into Summer League, and he sure lived up to it Sunday afternoon.
You know that 17-2 run that we mentioned at the top of the article? Well, that was largely Madar’s doing.
The 20-year-old Israeli point guard entered the game midway through the first quarter when the C’s were down 10-0, and from that point forward was when they turned the game around. He knocked down the first shot of the game, made some impressive passes off the dribble, and played energetic defense throughout his 17 minutes of action, during which he tallied eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Pritchard commented that Madar “did an incredible job” in his first Summer League game, as he “came in and brought that energy, that activeness, and it just carried over for all of us.”
Edwards Excelled Across the Board
Carsen Edwards said a few days that he’s hoping to use Summer League as an opportunity “to prove that I belong on the floor” in his upcoming third season with the Celtics. Well, he’s off to a good start, because he proved to be one of the best all-around players on the floor in Game 1.
Edwards finished second on the team in scoring with 17 points, led the team in rebounds with eight, and tied for the game lead in assists with six. The 5-foot-11 guard also snagged one steal and did not turn the ball over a single time during his 30-plus minutes of action, which was extra impressive considering how he spent a good deal of time running the offense.
We know that Edwards can heat up in the scoring department, but it was extra encouraging to see him contribute in so many other ways right off the bat.
Rom3o Delivered in the Game’s Biggest Moment
Romeo Langford says that he’s been working extensively on his shooting this offseason, and he sure backed up that claim Sunday afternoon.
The third-year guard canned 3-of-7 from 3-point range, including the game-winning dagger from the right corner, which we have clipped below for your viewing pleasure.
After spending the last couple of seasons improving his shot mechanics, the next step for Langford is to keep shooting with confidence. Clearly he did that in this case, as he knocked down the biggest shot of the game without hesitation.
Sharpshooting teammate Pritchard believes that if Langford can carry such confidence into this coming season, “it’s going to expand his game tremendously. He has the ability to pass, drive, (play) defense, and so once that three-ball keeps coming like he hit at the end of the game, he’s going to be a problem.”
Begarin Brought Big-Time Effort
Langford’s clutch shot may have not turned out to be the game-winner if it hadn’t been for Juhann Begarin’s big-time play on the ensuing defensive possession.
As Atlanta was setting up its out-of-bounds play at mid-court, Skylar Mays was able to lose Pritchard on a screen so that he could catch the inbound pass near the logo. However, Begarin executed a perfect switch onto Mays, jumped the passing lane, and picked off Sharife Cooper’s dish to seal the win.
Boston’s 2021 second-round pick expressed following practice Thursday afternoon how much he enjoys playing defense, and he showcased that ability throughout his first NBA game with his lateral quickness and active hands. The 6-foot-5 guard also displayed confidence in his shooting, as he knocked down his first two 3-point attempts and finished with seven points to go along with five rebounds.
Begarin was initially not on the Celtics’ Summer League squad, but he claimed to have convinced the basketball operations staff to let him come to Vegas to prove his worth. And it’s a good thing that he did, because the Celtics may not have won their first game if it weren’t for his clutch defense.
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