Both the Celtics and 76ers were missing a few key summer league guys tonight. Markelle Fultz’s ankle injury robbed us of another Fultz-Tatum showdown. The Celtics were without Abdel Nader, and Jaylen Brown would leave the game after an injury.
Jaylen Brown, fresh off hosting his teen party, looked dominant early on though. He opened the scoring with a nice turnaround post jumper. Then he followed with a three and a monster block at the rim. That was definitely the high point of his night, as he left the game after taking a knee to the thigh. He briefly returned, but the Celtics ultimately pulled him from the game—which is obviously the right call, even if he wanted to play. “Forget it, Jaylen. It’s Summer League.”
It’s no secret Jayson Tatum is a talented scorer. He continues to show off his offensive repertoire, like his crossover against a big man that switched onto him. He made a few of his usual tough shots, but he still struggled a bit in this game. The Sixers did a nice job using their length to challenge his shots too, holding Tatum to just 6/15 shooting. The 76ers pressured him and caused a few turnovers. But in crunch time he showed up. Tatum found Jackson with a nice assist and scored a clutch driving layup in the last minute.
Right now Tatum is probably settling for too many mid-range shots and needs to move the ball more. But a lot of that is inherent in Summer League basketball. Ball movement isn’t the strongest, and the quality of play can get pretty ugly. Those issues should get ironed once he joins the full squad.
One skill that should pay immediate dividends is his transition scoring. Tatum had multiple coast-to-coast drives that ended with a finish at the rim or a foul. He’s a surprisingly aggressive rebounder too, which only adds to his potential.
Ante Zizic is getting more comfortable. He’s a little awkward with the ball, and struggled with turnovers. But he was a beast on the offensive glass and finishing at the rim. Also, turns out he can jump! He showed off his hops with by finished an alley-oop from Demetrius Jackson. Zizic earned a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards.
Defense is going to be a learning process for him. Zizic won’t wow anyone with his athleticism, but his verticality was enough to contest some shots.
Jabari Bird filled it up on offense with 15 points. He was getting to rim and threw down a vicious put-back dunk in the fourth. He’s more of a G-League guy this season, but it’s nice to see him playing well.
Despite committing a ton of turnovers, Boston came away with the win and stayed undefeated in the Vegas summer league.