SALT LAKE CITY – The Boston Celtics certainly didn’t have the kind of opening night they were looking for in the Utah Jazz Summer League, losing 100-82 to the host Utah Jazz.
While the outcome was disappointing, there were a number of positives that the Celtics will try to build on as they look ahead to Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers who are led by rookie Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 pick in last month’s NBA draft.
But with such a decisive defeat, clearly there were breakdowns and bad plays made as well.
Here we’ll take a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the Celtics’ summer league matchup on Monday.
MARCUS SMART, BOSTON
Aside from the outcome, Smart was able to do many of the things that we didn’t see enough of last season when he was a rookie. Not only was Smart attacking the paint, but he was being rewarded with frequent trips to the free throw line.
He led all scorers with 26 points which included a 12-for-13 showing from the free throw line.
Running the team was a chief area of growth Smart and the Celtics were looking for. He was the first to admit after the game that he has to do a better job of getting his teammates the best shots for them to be effective.
That said, he still managed eight assists with just two turnovers.
DANTE EXUM, UTAH
The first point guard taken in last year’s NBA draft, the Jazz are excited about the direction his game appears to be heading. Utah took over with a dominant 31-15 showing in the second quarter, with Exum scoring 12 of his 20 points in that quarter.
Like Smart, he too spent a considerable amount of time at the free throw line where he converted nine of his 10 attempts. He also grabbed five rebounds with five assists and just one turnover.
The only downside of Exum’s game came in the final minutes when he suffered an ankle sprain that’s likely to keep him out for the rest of the summer league slate here in Utah.
RODNEY HOOD, UTAH
Just like Exum put the Jazz in control in the second, it was Hood who put the game away in the fourth quarter.
That is when the No. 23 pick in last year’s NBA draft scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in helping lead the Jazz to victory.
Hood displayed a much more well-rounded game offensively than we had seen in the past. Not only was he delivering from the perimeter, but he was putting the ball on the floor and driving into the lane as well.
The Celtics had lots of problems figuring out exactly how to defend him and that confusion led to Hood having a monster game.
JORDAN MICKEY, BOSTON
We have spent a lot of time talking about Boston’s two first-round picks, but it was their second-round steal Jordan Mickey who really shined among the rookies.
Mickey came into the league known for his defense, rim protection and shot-blocking.
All three phases of his game were on display Monday night.
But Mickey also delighted Celtics fans to a surprisingly efficient face-up game which was huge in him scoring 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting.
It’s only one game so folks shouldn’t get too excited.
But it was the kind of encouraging sign that Celtics fans will gladly embrace considering the team’s draft night and free agency efforts didn’t produce the kind of fireworks many were hoping for this offseason.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Boston Celtics were clocked on the boards. After all, this team is shifting further and further towards being a small-ball club. And if you’re not making shots, it means lots of opportunities for the bigger, more physical team to just crush you on the boards.
That’s exactly what Utah did as they won the rebounding war 51-31 over Boston.
One of the factors in the team’s rebounding struggles was the absence of 7-footer Colton Iverson who will not be with the team in summer league. Instead he will pursue opportunities to play overseas instead. “We could have used Colton tonight, huh?” quipped a Celtics official.