Nesmith, Pritchard Lead Summer Celtics to Blowout W, 2-0 Record

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Aaron Nesmith caught fire, Payton Pritchard remained on fire, and the Boston Celtics took it to the Denver Nuggets during a 107-82 victory Tuesday night to remain undefeated in Summer League play.

Nesmith’s rust from Sunday’s opening game lasted all of 48 hours, as he responded with a monster 33-point game that featured 19 points during the first half alone. He connected on 13 of his 18 field goals, including a 7-for-9 performance from long range, just a couple of days after he he totaled only 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting during Boston’s opener.

Suffice to say, Sunday’s rough outing didn’t impact his confidence on the court.

“In the gym yesterday, I made sure I went through the same routine, changed nothing, kept the same confidence in my shot, and then came out today and just shot it the way that I know I can every day,” the ever=confident Nesmith told reporters after his shooting barrage.

Pritchard, meanwhile, didn’t need a bounce-back game after his 23-point, five-assist, zero-turnover gem from Sunday afternoon. He hasn’t cooled off since ranking second among all rookies in 3-point percentage last season (minimum 100 made 3s) at 41.1 percent. He continued to sizzle Tuesday night, scoring another 21 points while connecting on four of his five 3-point attempts. He is now 11-for-20 from long range overall over Boston’s two Summer League games.

This one was about more than just his shooting, however. Pritchard also distributed 12 assists compared to just one turnover, giving him a sparkling 17-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio overall thus far in Las Vegas.

“I think he did a great job just knowing what the game needed, and the game needed for him to just make the right play for other people,” Celtics Summer League Head Coach Joe Mazzulla said of Pritchard.

Mazzulla then said there is one more critical step Pritchard needs to develop in his game in order to become a dominant floor general.

“One thing we talked about is: he’s learned to manage the game,” Mazzulla stated, “and now he has to learn to manage his teammates.”

Truth be told, Pritchard appeared to manage his teammates at a high level Tuesday night, and that became infectious within the team. Boston totaled 25 assists compared to just 12 turnovers on the night, which is an assist-to-turnover ratio that is rarely found among Summer League play that is typically marred by turnovers.

Boston’s strong team play was there from the start, as it raced out of the gates to take a 19-11 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Denver briefly tied the game at 19-19 at the 3:45 mark of the period, but Boston answered with a 3-pointer from Carsen Edwards just 22 seconds later. The Celtics played from ahead for the remainder of the contest.

The C’s led by eight heading into the second quarter but pulled away early on in the period with a 17-3 run that provided them with a 20-point advantage. Pritchard scored six of the points during that run, while Nesmith and Edwards added in three apiece, Zach Aguste scored four, and Romeo Langford scored one.

Speaking of Langford, the third-year wing notched a highlight moment late in the third quarter when he rose up for what is unquestionably the loudest slam of his professional career.

Bruno Fernando attacked the paint in transition and drew two Denver defenders before dropping a pass off to a cutting Langford. The 6-foot-4 wing caught the ball, took one dribble, rose up and cocked the ball back before slamming home a monstrous dunk over the defenseless Davon Reed.

As you may have seen in the clip above, Langford, who finished with eight points on the night, took a moment to admire his own work.

He and the Celtics were allowed to do so Tuesday night, as they put together another strong performance to open up Summer League play. They now stand at 2-0 as they head into Thursday night’s 7 p.m. matchup with the Orlando Magic, who are led by rookie guard and fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs.

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