Celtics

Summer League takeaways: Jabari Bird impresses once again

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Summer League takeaways: Jabari Bird impresses once again

LAS VEGAS – Winning is always the goal when it comes to playing in the NBA, but Summer League results are more about making progress than making game-winning shots.

The Celtics lost 82-69 to the Denver Nuggets, but there were indeed some positives they could take away from the experience.

Here are three takeaways from Boston’s matchup against the Nuggets.

Jabari Bird

For the second time in as many nights, Jabari Bird showcased what we’ve seen in spurts – athleticism and tremendous versatility. In addition to defending multiple positions, Bird’s ability to score attacking the rim from various points including some highlight-quality above-the-rim plays, speaks to the promise that the Celtics are hoping to tap into this season. For the game, Bird finished with 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting along with three rebounds and an assist.

Three-point shooting

Whether it’s the summer league version of the Celtics or the ones we’ll see in the regular season, this team will have nights when the 3-point shot won’t fall. That’s exactly what we saw on Saturday as the Celtics opened by missing 13 of their first 14 three-point attempts. The struggles didn’t let up as time went on, with the Celtics finishing a dismal 22.2 percent (4-for-18) shooting from 3-point range.

Transition Defense

The Celtics had too many empty possessions where they didn’t get back quick enough on defense. And to the Nuggets credit, they made the Celtics pay for this most of the time. The Nuggets would finish the game with 16 fast-break points compared to just six for Boston.

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

The Celtics have gone 17-12 since a 10-1 start. They're 4-5 in the new year and, after losing in Milwaukee on Thursday night, Boston is 7-8 against teams .500 or better.

On the latest Celtics Talk Podcast, it led Kyle Draper to ask our Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely, the inevitable question, Did a hot start make fans believe this team was better than it actually is?

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"We had the cookies on the bottom shelf in terms of expectations," was Blakely's response. "If they just did anything else other than get their heads handed to them early on [to start the season], we're like, hey, they're pretty good."

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What's behind the recent slide that seen the C's lose five of their past seven? Blakely says it's the defense. 

"When you really start looking at what's happening lately, that defense is getting exposed," Blakely said. "[Enes] Kanter has had a great season, but the law of averages says he's going to go through a stretch where he's just not going to get it done. Look at Jaylen Brown, he's had a great season, so has [Jayson] Tatum, but they're going to go through stretches where they're not getting it done. 

"The defense is not making the plays they need to that's why teams are shooting high 50's low 60's [percent] against them." 

Draper and Blakely also touch on the loss in Milwaukee and if the C's have enough to compete with the best in the East, another up-and-down season for Gordon Hayward ("We have been on this ride before," said Blakely. "Gordon [will] go out and has an 8-for-10 game. And people are going to be like, In Danny [Ainge] we trust, Gordon's great..."), Kyrie Irving's recent comments on his Nets teammates and more in the podcast, part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters, Carsen Edwards fared for Red Claws vs. Long Island Nets

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters, Carsen Edwards fared for Red Claws vs. Long Island Nets

The Maine Red Claws once again had Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters, and Carsen Edwards at their disposal for their Friday night game against the Long Island Nets. The Boston Celtics rookies were looking to extend the Red Claws winning streak to eight as they continue to develop into a G League force.

They came up short in a closely contested road game, falling 111-102.

The Red Claws really were led by Fall, Waters, and Edwards in this contest with each playing a key role. Here's a look at their highlights and their final stat lines.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

TACKO FALL

Fall continues to post monster numbers in the G League and he was particularly effective against the Nets. Fall logged a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds in just 22 minutes. He also led all players in the game with two blocked shots.

TREMONT WATERS

Waters took a backseat to Edwards and Fall in this contest but still managed to post his typical well-rounded stat line. He totaled 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals while making 4 of 11 shots.

CARSEN EDWARDS

Edwards was the Red Claws leading scorer in this game and it's clear that Maine is looking at him as its go-to scoring option. Edwards totaled 33 points on 11 of 27 shooting and played a team-high 40 minutes. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

The Red Claws are likely looking to help Edwards develop into a bench scorer that can help the Celtics in the second half of the season.

The Red Claws next play the College Park Skyhawks at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Atlanta.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.