The Celtics advanced to the second round Las Vegas Summer League tournament after beating to the New York Knicks 82-75 on Thursday afternoon. The Celtics opened the game with a small opening line-up, as the 6’8” Guerschon Yabusele was the Celtics tallest starter. The spacing gambit paid dividends for familiar top performers Semi Ojeleye and Jabari Bird; as the former finished with 21 points on 4 of 9 shooting from deep and the latter posted a 13-10-4-3 double double.
The Celtics came out of the gate hot, paced by Ojeleye, who exploded for 11 points in his first seven minutes. The Celtics created some space late in the first as back to back three pointers by Yabusele and Ojeleye fueled a 12-0 run. Knicks’ first round pick Kevin Knox struggled a bit in the game, and finishing with 15 points on 20 shots.
Yabu slam + Jaylen and Kyrie's reaction pic.twitter.com/WcWiMxFnZ9— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) July 12, 2018
The smothering Celtics defense held the Knicks to 16 points through 6:36 remaining in the second quarter, and as the Celtics maintained a double digit lead for the majority of the game until a Luke Kornet three-pointer mid-way through the 4th quarter cut the lead to 9. The Knicks had previously cut the league to 10 after scoring 11 straight points against the Celtics bench unit before Justin Bibbs stopped the bleeding with a lay-up.
Knicks second round pick Mitchell Robinson scored five straight points late in the 4th, cutting the lead to six. Ojeleye hit a free throw to extend the lead to seven, but a Troy Williams feed from Kevin Knox tightened the C’s lead to five. However, a big offensive rebound and layup from Bird maintained the lead.
The drama continued into the final minutes as Yabusele missed a point blank shot, setting up a Kevin Knox three that could have cut the lead to a single possession. However, the incoming rookie missed and Yabusele secured the rebound. Pierria Henry would all but salt away the game on the ensuing possession with a nifty layup, finishing with a tidy 6-6-5. The free throw game would be played for the remainder of the game.
It was a big game for Mitchell, who showed why he has already been signed to a 4 year deal with the club, finishing the game with a nifty (if assist-less) 17-12-6-3 stat line in 27 minutes.
It was also strong games for Hassan Martin and Jared Utoff who made their presence felt in the middle, altering shots and coming down with some tough rebounds against a Knicks team that made a concentrated point to attack the rim.
Celtics first round pick Robert Williams was a scratch for the 3rd game in a row for the Celtics, still limited by the knee injury suffered in the first game of Summer League.
Robert Williams’ run of injury-related DNPs will continue today much to the disappointment of anyone hoping to see a Williams-Mitchell Robinson matchup.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) July 12, 2018
- Kyrie Irving was in the building to watch the Celtics victory, sitting court side alongside Jaylen Brown and Brad Stevens.
With Kyrie Irving in Las Vegas to watch the Summer Celtics it's time to share this note from a team source: "Ignore that noise about Kyrie not liking it in Boston and about being jealous of the kids and the attention they get. This team is closer than any team I can remember."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 12, 2018
- A half-court shot by Knicks player Troy Williams was waved off at the end of the 3rd quarter, after a video review revealed that he did not get the shot off in time.
- The Celtics will play Miami Heat this Saturday in second round action.