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Celtics take on Sixers in first Summer League action

Celtics and Sixers face off with a meeting of two of the top three draft picks.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (0-0) vs Philadelphia 76ers (0-0) 
Utah Summer League Game 1
Monday, July 4, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Streaming:  ESPN 3
Vivant Smart Home Arena

The Utah Summer League kicks off with a first look at the first and third picks in this year's draft.
The Celtics have a nice team with rookies Jaylen Brown, Ben Bentil, Demetrius Jackson, Abdel Nader and Guershchon Yabusele.   They also have second year players RJ Hunter, Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier, and Marcus ThorntonJames Young is playing in his third Summer League for the Celtics.  They also have a couple of Red Claws and undrafted players. It's too bad that Ante Zizic won't be playing as I was looking forward to getting a look at him other than highlight reels. 

The Sixers feature the #1 draft pick, Ben Simmons, who is the early pick for rookie of the year.  They also have rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and  second year players Richuan Holmes, TJ McConnell, and Christian WoodTimothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was originally listed as playing in the Vegas Summer League only but now is projected to play in this league as well.  A third first round pick, Furkan Korkmaz of Turkey, is not listed on their roster.  They also have Levi Randolph, who played for the Celtics in training camp and for the Red Claws last season.

It's always tough to predict starting lineups for Summer League games.  The Sixers have released a preliminary starting lineup of McConnell, Luwawu-Cabarrot, Nunnally, Simmons,  and  Holmes.   I would predict that Brown will be starting for the Celtics but that's as far as I will guess.  Jordan Mickey injured his shoulder and is not with the team for this game.  He may return later in the week but should definitely be back for Vegas.  I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing what he could do, especially against Ben Simmons. 

Looking at the two rosters, we should see a lot of small ball.  The Celtics tallest player is 6'9" tall and is the only center listed on the roster.  Jordan Mickey is long and can play center and is listed at 6'8".  For the Sixers, they have 6'10" Richuan Holmes and 6'11" Christian Wood but the other players are all 6'9" or shorter.  It should be a fun game to watch. 

Celtics Summer League Roster
Player..... Number

Ben Bentil  50
Jaylen Brown 9
RJ Hunter 28
Demetrius Jackson 26
Jordan Mickey 55
Malcolm Miller 48
Abdel Nader  51
Jayvaughn Pinkston 52
Terry Rozier  12
Marcus Thornton 27
Corey Walden 46
Guerschon Yabusele 30
Mouphtaou Yarou  63
James Young  13
Coach: Micah Shrewsberry

Sixers Summer League Roster
Player.... Number

Bryon Allen 1
Tomasz Gielo  50
Richuan Holmes  22
Maodo Lo  18
Shawn Long  41
Timothe Luwawu  20 
TJ McConnell 12
Javon McCrea  14
James Nunnally 17
Levi Randolph  40
Ben Simmons  25
Kwame Vaughn  23
James Webb  23
Coach:  Billy Lange

Players to Watch

James Young is playing in his third Summer League.  While it's not usual for 3rd year players to play in Summer League, Young has spent most of his first two seasons with the Celtics playing for the Red Claws.  He has yet to prove that he can play on this level and so these games are very important for him.

Celtics fans were not happy on draft night when Danny didn't make a trade but instead chose Jaylen Brown with the third pick.  Brown has vowed to prove that he is worth the third pick and will look to start winning over Celtics fans with Summer League. 

Honorable Mention
Guerschon Yabusele
The Celtics rookie has been described by coach Micah Shrewsberry as a Dancing Bear.  He has great footwork in spite of his size.  He also has a great 3 point shot.  It will be interesting to see how he plays.  Most assume that he will be a draft and stash pick but he may just play himself onto the team this season.

Ben Simmons was the much heralded first pick of the 2016 draft.  He is already being discussed as the Rookie of the Year before playing a single game for the Sixers.  We get our first look at him in this game.

Christian Wood is the tallest player on either team.  He is entering his second season in the league having gone undrafted last season.  He averaged 3.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.4 blocks last season. 

Honorable Mention
Levi Randolph
Randolph played for the Celtics in training camp last season and after being cut at the end of the preseason, he signed with the Red Claws and averaged 14.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season for them. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - Whether it's Summer League or regular season, defense is the key to winning.  The young Celtics need to make defense and getting stops their priority.
Rebounding - With their lack of size, especially with Mickey being out with the injury,  the Celtics will need to box out and make an extra effort to grab rebounds.  You can't score if you don't have the ball. 
Teamwork - As we saw with the Celtics in the regular season, teamwork can often make up for the lack of stars, size and other things that teams need to have to win.  It would be nice to see the baby Celtics pick up where the parent club left off and play as "one superstar."
Have Fun - The Celtics have a lot of youngsters trying to make an impression on the Celtics front office.  You have Brown trying to prove that Danny was right to pick him.  There's Yabusele who wants to stay with the Celtics rather than be stashed in Europe. There are the second round picks wanting to impress enough for a contract.  And the second and third year players wanting to show their growth.  In the midst of all that, they can't let themselves forget to have fun because when players have fun,  the game comes to them instead of having to force it.

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