Stars, studs, duds: Jayson Tatum, Dante Exum battle for spotlight

Stars, studs, duds: Jayson Tatum, Dante Exum battle for spotlight

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Boston Celtics closed out the Utah Summer League with a 68-65 loss to the host team Utah Jazz. 

Here are the game’s Stars, Studs and Duds:


Dante Exum: One of the more experienced NBA players in summer league, Exum came up with some big plays offensively down the stretch that proved to be huge in Utah rallying from 13 points down, to get the win. He finished with 16 points and four assists. 

Jayson Tatum: The Utah defense (Donovan Mitchell, specifically) forced Tatum into turning the ball over five times. But he still made his presence felt for the Celtics, tallying a second straight double-double as he finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.


Abdel Nader: Getting the start for Jaylen Brown (coaches decision), Nader reminded the folks on hand why he was one of the best players in the D-League last season. He led all scorers with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting. 

Donovan Mitchell: Keep an eye on Mitchell this season because his tough, gritty play is going to get hom on the floor where, in summer league at least, he shows signs of having game-changing potential as a defender. He had eight points but more significant was the stifling defense he played on Tatum and the four steals he tallied. 


Celtics 3-point shooting: Boston shot just 28.6 percent from 3-point range, missing 15 of their 21 attempts. With the Celtics playing most of the game without a point guard, making shots from 3-point land is absolutely critical to their chances of winning games.

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

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Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.