Celtics

The best of the C's Orlando Summer League

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The best of the C's Orlando Summer League

ORLANDO, Fla. The Celtics concluded the Orlando portion of their summer league schedule Friday with a 94-73 win over the Orlando Magic. Boston finished with a 4-1 record, but let's be honest. Teams don't put much stock in wins and losses this time of year.

The focus has more to do with evaluating talent, and seeing how that talent fits in with a team's goals and objectives.

With that said, here's a look at the C's 12-man summer league roster now that their five-game Orlando summer league schedule is complete.

BEST OF THE BEST

Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State:
Summary: Offensively, picked up where he left off in college as a good scorer around the basket. Better passer and rebounder than expected, a clear result of having a high basketball IQ. However, he tends to fall in love with the long-ball and spends too much time politicin' for calls instead of just playing through them.

Dionte Christmas, GF, Temple
Strengths: Can score in a variety of ways; plays with lots of energy at both ends of the floor; not a lock-down defender, but plays with a certain amount of smarts and savvy. However, he doesn't have a true position and doesn't play with a great amount of athleticism which at times can put him at a disadvantage particularly on defense.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have a true position on the floor. Inconsistent at times.

E'Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
Summary: Spent the bulk of his time at the point guard position, still needs to improve his court vision and setting up teammates. Still, he has the ability to score in bunches and plays with the kind of confidence you want in a floor leader. Like most young players, Moore needs to be more consistent with the things he does best - making shots.

Kris Joseph, F, Syracuse
Summary: A second-round pick, Joseph has been arguably the biggest surprise thus far for the Celtics. He didn't look particularly good in practices, but has played well in most of the summer league games. His mid-range jumper has been solid, but even more impressive has been his defense and rebounding - two things that will bode well in his quest to earn a roster spot with the Celtics.

Jamar Smith, G, Southern Indiana
Summary: Shot the ball well all week, but his ball-handling and defense need work. He did some good things and probably did enough to warrant an invite to training camp.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sean Williams, FC, Boston College
Summary: He saw limited action, but continues to draw rave reviews from the coaches who see him as a potential rotation player this season. He has the kind of athleticism defensively that the Celtics desperately need. That athleticism coupled with him being such a willing defender makes the decision for Boston to pick up the option on his second season, a pretty easy one.

JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue
Summary: Johnson's play was up and down throughout the summer league. The C's want to play him some at the power forward position, but even against the young and inexperienced, he struggled to be an effective player in the post. He has the ability to shoot from the perimeter, but his range doesn't extend out to the 3- point line which makes him a "stretch 4" with limitations. He has to step his game up in a number of areas in order to not have a repeat of his rookie season.

Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Summary: As billed, Melo's defense is ahead - way ahead - of his offense. He was more of a shot-alterer than a shot-blocker. His lateral quickness is surprisingly good on defending pick-and-rolls. Although he's not a great rebounder, he understands angles and how to position himself to draw charges which is rare for a big man with his shot-blocking and shot-altering talent.

Jonathan Gibson, G, New Mexico State
Summary: Other than a 17-point explosion in Boston's win over Brooklyn on Tuesday, Gibson has done little offensively. Although he's undersized, showed signs of being a good on-the-ball pressure defender in the Avery Bradley mold. He's on the bubble for receiving an invite to training camp.

Larry Owens, GF, Oral Roberts
Summary: A fringe NBA player, Owens was relatively quiet until the Friday's win against Orlando. He may in fact get an invitation to training camp, but the prospects of him leap-frogging past a player like Christmas or Joseph, seems unlikely.

BEFORE WE FORGET

Stephane Lasme, F, UMass
Summary: After being the last player cut by the Celtics a couple years ago, it's highly unlikely Lasme will get that close this time around. In fact, getting an invite to training camp will be a bit of a surprise. His defense is still pretty good. But the improvements he has supposedly made in his shooting and ball-handling, were nowhere to be found this week.

Craig Brackins, F, Iowa State
Summary: This former first-round pick had 10 points in Boston's win over Orlando, but this week by no means was a success for him. He played fewer minutes than any other Celtic. He is a big man with 3-point range, something that was not on display until Friday. He'll likely get more opportunities during the Las Vegas summer league with the Celtics to prove that his play on Friday wasn't a fluke and possibly earn an invite to training camp.

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

BOSTON – If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Brad Stevens in his time as Celtics coach, it’s that he’s not about that sugarcoating life.
 
When it comes to his team, he’s about as transparent a coach as you will find in the NBA.

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So, when he says his team has been outplayed in both of its first two games, he’s not doing it as some stealth rallying cry.
 
He’s doing it because it’s where they are at this moment.
 
“So, whatever that’s attributable to, we’ve got to fix it, we’ve got to be better at it, regardless of when it is,” Stevens said.
 
Boston will get another crack at it on Friday night against a Philadelphia squad that, like the Celtics, is also searching for its first win of the season.
 
Struggling to win games is something the Sixers have grown accustomed to in recent years.
 
But the Celtics have been on an upward trajectory every year under Stevens’ watch. And while it’s far too soon to panic over their start, players understand that change must come about soon if they are to get on the right track and have the kind of season they envision for themselves as a group.
 
“Brad’s right, we have a lot of plays to clean up and a lot of stuff to get better at, but that’s’ the beauty of it,” said Jaylen Brown. “We got a really good group and a lot of young guys – we’re going to move forward and take that challenge. We’re going to win some games; we’re going to win a lot of games here in Boston.”
 
But doing so won’t be easy, not with the Celtics still trying to find the best way to move forward following Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that may keep him out for the remainder of this season.
 
The Celtics have led in the fourth quarter of both losses before eventually failing to make the necessary plays down the stretch to ensure victory.
 
Some of that has to do with the unfamiliarity - not a surprise when you add 10 new players to the mix in one offseason. Another contributing factor is, because of injuries, there are players elevated to more prominent roles who were otherwise seen as simply depth additions at the end of the bench.
 
Whatever the reasons may be, the bottom line is clear: the Celtics have played two games where they were outplayed enough to lose. 
 
“I don’t want to make the excuse that we’re a young team, but we are,” said Kyrie Irving. “We have some experience here and we have to utilize that and continue to exude confidence in young guys and ourselves and understand the game comes in waves. There are going to be ups and downs. We have to be able to withstand other team’s runs as well as hit back and have that hit-first mentality in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter. Once we start understanding we have to put a complete game together, myself being at the head of the ball and being better with it and putting guys in the right spots, we’ll be fine.”