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Preview: Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers SL Game #1

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The Celtics begin their Summer League play with a game against division rival Philadelphia 76ers.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia Commonwealth vs UCF
Tacko Fall will be a player to watch on the Celtics Summer League Team.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics begin their Summer league slate with a game against their division rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams include this year’s draft picks, along with several undrafted free agents, a couple of 2 way players, as well as a some players from last year’s teams.

The game between the Knicks and the Pelicans on Friday night was halted by an earthquake that set the jumbotron swinging and forced the players to head to the locker rooms. The Orlando/San Antonio game was also halted and the Phoenix and Denver game was cancelled. NBA.com reports that after Arena reviews today’s games will be played. So barring another earthquake, this game should go on as planned.

Neither team played in the Utah or the Sacramento Summer Leagues. This is the Celtics first game of Summer League while the Sixers are playing in their second game, having faced the Bucks on Friday at 3:30 in the Vegas Summer League. The Sixers led that game throughout and led 87-71 after 3 quarters. However the Bucks fought back and in the end Philly won 107-106 after the Bucks’ final shot clanged off the rim. The Celtics will have a back to back set on Monday and Tuesday.

For the second time, these two teams are tied together by a draft night trade. In 2017, it was the trade that sent Markelle Fultz to the Sixers for Jayson Tatum. Tatum has become an integral part of the Celtics rotation while Fultz has not played more than a handful of games since he was drafted. In this draft, the Celtics traded the 20th pick, Matisse Thybulle to the Sixers for the 24th and 33rd picks. The Celtics traded the 24th pick to Phoenix and took Carsen Edwards with the 33rd pick. Celtics fans are hoping that the Celtics will have similar luck with this trade.

There is only one lottery pick on either of these teams and that is the Celtics’ Romeo Langford. Langford played much of last season with torn ligaments in his thumb. He had offseason surgery on the thumb and still has not been cleared for full contact. He is in Las Vegas with the team, however and doing some light shooting and workouts. As of now, Philly has no injuries listed.

Connor Johnson is the head coach of the Sixers’ Summer League team. He is the coach of Philadelphia’s G-League team, the Delaware Blue Coats. Scott Morrison is the head coach of the Celtics’ Summer League team. Morrison at one time coached the Maine Red Claws and is now an assistant to Brad Stevens on the Celtics. Also of note, new assistant coach Kara Lawson is assisting with the team.

Celtics Roster
Carsen Edwards G 6’1”
Jon Elmore G 6’3”
Tacko Fall C 7’6”
Javonte Green G 6’4”
Aaron Harrison G/F 6’4”
Romeo Langford G/F 6’6”
Chinanu Onuaku C 6’9”
Kendrick Ray G 6’2”
Max Strus G/F 6’6”
Tremont Waters G 5’11”
Grant Williams F 6’7”
Robert Williams III C 6’10”
Guerschon Yabusele F 6’8”

Head Coach
Scott Morrison

76ers Roster
AJ Davis F 6’9”
PJ Dozier G 6’6”
Zach Hankins F/C 6’11”
Terry Harris G/F 6’6”
Haywood Highsmith F 6’7”
Jalen Jones F 6’7”
Christ Koumadje C 7’4”
Sheldon Mac G/F 6’5”
Shake Milton G 6’6”
Norvel Pelle C 6’10”
Marial Shayok G/F 6’6”
Zhaire Smith G/F 6’4”
Matisse Thybulle G/F 6’5”

Head Coach
Connor Johnson

Players to Watch
For the Celtics
Grant Williams was the 22nd pick in the draft. He has shown leadership and a good basketball IQ in Summer League practices. All reports so far have been that Williams could crack the rotation this year.
Carsen Edwards is a scorer and as pick #33, he may be the steal of the draft. He is strong and can shoot from pretty much anywhere. There’s a good chance he finds a place in the rotation.
Robert Williams spent a lot of time in Maine last season but he is athletic and showed some promise last season. He is ready to prove that he belongs.
Guerschon Yabusele was drafted in 2016 and has been trying to find his place on the team ever since. He has shown flashes but hasn’t been consistent enough to secure a spot in the rotation. This may be his last chance.

For the Sixers
Shake Milton was a 2 way player with the Sixers last season. He averaged 4.4 points in 20 games for the 76ers and averaged 24.9 points (4th-best in the G-League) in 27 games for the Blue Coats. He started the Sixers game vs the Bucks and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal.
Zhaire Smith played in just 6 games last season due to a fracture in his foot along with a severe allergic reaction to some food. He, along with Milton are vying for the back up point guard spot for the Sixers. Smith started at shooting guard in Philly’s first game and had 10 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal.
Matisse Thybulle is the player that the Sixers received in exchange for Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards. Thybulle is a tough defensive player who has been compared to Marcus Smart. Thybulle had 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in his first game.
PJ Dozier was one of the Celtics’ two way players last season. He played in 6 games for Boston last season and averaged 3.2 points per game. He was named to the All-NBA G League team. He is a second cousin of the late Celtics Captain, Reggie Lewis. Dozier finished Friday’s game with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

Key Matchup

Tacko Fall vs Christ Koumadje
This should be one of the matchups that is most fun to watch. The 7’6” (or 7’7”) Tacko Fall vs the 7’4” Christ Koumadje. Which of the giants will win the matchup. Will either prove to be worthy of making the team? This is a first step to finding out. Koumadje impressed in his first game on Friday with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

X-Factor
The 76ers have already played in a game while this is the Celtics first game. That could give the Sixers a slight edge. However, it may also give the Celtics a slight edge because the Sixers are playing back to back.