In stark contrast to their first Summer League showing, the Celtics were able to take an early lead and cruise to a big win in their second contest against Denver.
Aaron Nesmith found his groove early and often in this one, hitting nearly every three he took and displaying some smooth moves at the rim. Nesmith looked like a lottery pick that is playing against inferior competition, which wasn’t always the case in a poor shooting performance on Sunday.
He scored 33 points on 13-for-18 from the floor and 7-for-9 from three. After shaking off the summer rust, Nesmith looks every bit the player the world saw in the Brooklyn Nets series. He was able to hit shots and exert his energy on inferior competition, which is exactly what the coaching staff and fans want to see from a potential key rotation piece.
Despite Nesmith’s explosion, Payton Pritchard was the best player on the court for the second game. His vision and ability to manipulate defenders in Summer League prove he won’t be playing too many more games in Vegas. Pritchard was getting wherever he wanted and when the defense was keyed in on him, he always made the correct pass.
Plays like the one below showcase exactly how Pritchard was able to exploit the defense. The Nuggets are all over the place, overreacting to every movement and crashing hard at the slightest twitch after one of their defenders fell down. Pritchard recognizes the defense crashing on Nesmith, stays put and fires as soon as the ball gets to him for an easy three.
In total, his second game was incredibly well-rounded. His final stat line was 20 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds, a near triple-double in just 25 minutes of action. Pritchard once again proved his poise has been his most vital attribute since being drafted and should be rewarded promptly with a nice seat on the bench and a DNP for the remainder of Summer League.
The other three starters, Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford and Bruno Fernando, all played well, too. Langford made the big highlight of the night on a poster dunk, but Fernando played very well in his debut. His performance was especially stellar considering he just joined the team on three days ago.
Fernando didn’t have a gaudy box score like Pritchard or Nesmith, but he consistently gave Denver problems in the paint. Fernando’s play made up for lackluster minutes from big men in game one. His deft touch around the rim, especially on the roll, gave the Celtics offense a new dimension.
Bruno Fernando making his Summer League debut pic.twitter.com/yg6uSePktq— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) August 10, 2021
Fernando and Langford both impressed, but still need more time in Summer League to sharpen their skills. Langford in particular struggled to get any offense going outside of the free throw line. Perhaps if Nesmith and Pritchard rest, he could get more involved in the offense, especially creating for others.
Regardless, Langford must sharpen his offensive approach if he wants to gain more minutes in the regular season. He is, and always has been, an effective finisher. However, in the first two Summer League contests, he hasn’t shown much growth outside of finishing at the rim.
In Tuesday’s big blowout he didn’t see the floor as much as he did in game one, only playing nearly twenty minutes. If he sees more minutes and responsibility moving forward, Langford needs to take control of the game like Pritchard and Nesmith have done.
Denver shot poorly, and just couldn’t keep pace with Nesmith, Pritchard and Edwards, whom together scored 68 of Boston’s 107 points. The trio of shooters kept converting looks and sharing the wealth when they were covered. In addition to 14 points and eight boards, Edwards showcased playmaking chops of his own with five assists.