The Boston Celtics entered Tuesday night’s contest aiming to extend their winning streak to two. The Denver Nuggets’ Summer League crew is spearheaded by 2021 first-round pick Bones Hyland, a fearless three-level scorer. Here’s how it went for the green:
The Summer League Celtics collectively lit up the Nuggets from deep in the early going. Just 48 hours removed from a 1-for-8 shooting performance from three, Aaron Nesmith knocked down a pair of spot-up triples to ignite an 11-6 start to the game for Boston. Bruno Fernando, acquired in the three-team trade centered on Tristan Thompson, put together a solid stretch in his opening cameo as a Celtic, dropping seven points in five minutes and showcasing impressive touch around the rim.
Additionally, Carsen Edwards matched Nesmith’s two treys by hitting two three-pointers himself later in the first. Edwards continued to operate as the de-facto playmaker for the C’s as well, which led to mixed results; he threw a sloppy one-handed pass that zoomed out of bounds. The Celtics shot an otherworldly 7-for-8 from three across the first twelve minutes, though, and as a result were up 31-23. Nesmith topped all scorers with 11.
Payton Pritchard is too good for Summer League. Just partway through the second quarter, he was already up to 12 points and four assists for the game on 4-for-5 accuracy from the field. Pritchard looked like the best player on the Celtics and was assertive right from the opening tip. He was extremely comfortable getting to his spots and made a handful of highlight dishes, an aspect of his repertoire Celtics fans hope to see more of as a sophomore.
Pritchard’s spurt allowed Boston to gain separation on the scoreboard — they led 50-30 with five minutes left in the first half. However, it was an underwhelming two quarters for Romeo Langford, who attempted just four shots, though it’s worth mentioning one of his two baskets was a poster slam. Boston’s lead stood at 20 at the break, 66-46. Nesmith once again was the high-man for Boston with 15 points on five made threes.
Nesmith picked up right where he left off after a stellar opening 20 minutes; he added nine quick points to increase his total to 28 by the 6:50 mark. As a result, the Celtics saw their lead stretch into the 30s for the first time. Some baskets from Hyland and Bol Bol helped stop the hemorrhaging for Denver, the latter of which led the Nuggets in scoring with 21 points. Nonetheless, Boston’s lead remained comfortably in the 20s for the lion’s share of the third.
Nesmith singlehandedly prevented the Nuggets from clawing back into this game as he accumulated a whopping 31 points by the quarter’s end. Buoyed by Nesmith’s perimeter masterclass, the Celtics’ advantage was 22 at the end of three, 90-68. Pritchard was right behind Nesmith in terms of impact with 17 points and 12 assists.
With the outcome already all but decided, the final frame was uneventful. Nesmith made a slick drive-and-dish play to find big man Dedric Lawson for an easy two. Pritchard remained in attack mode and pressured the front of the rim, as evidenced by his dribble-drive layup and pair of free throws in the fourth.
The Nuggets waved the white flag not too long into the last period, and from there, both teams began to empty their benches. Neither team’s reserves could get it going offensively, and a scoring drought engulfed much of the fourth. Boston and Denver combined to score 31 total points in a quarter the players would like to forget soon. The final score was as follows: Celtics 107, Nuggets 82.
Next up for the Summer League Celtics are the Orlando Magic. Tune in at 7pm ET on August 12th.