SALT LAKE CITY — The Celtics dropped their summer league opener to the Utah Jazz on Monday night, 100-82. Here are some thoughts and observations from the night, as everyone attempts not to overreact to the good or the bad.
■ Don’t tell Marcus Smart this is just a summer league. The second-year guard was diving for loose balls, slamming into the floor, committing hard fouls and doing just about everything else players do in playoff games that they don’t do in summer leagues. He also made an obvious effort to attack the rim more, an area he struggled with at times last year.
“Just picking when and where to go,” Smart said. “Especially with my size, picking my spots—the right spots.”
■ There weren’t many bright spots, but rookie big man Jordan Mickey was one of them. The second-round pick, who led the nation in shot-blocking last season, showed flashes of a polished offensive game, too, converting 7 of 8 shots and scoring 16 points. Mickey said Celtics coach Brad Stevens has emphasized the importance of developing a face-up game.
“Coach Stevens always said when you square up, guys can’t touch you,” Mickey said.
■ Summer leagues generally feel like, well, summer leagues. But this is the rare league being played in the home arena of an NBA team, and there was a raucous crowd of 10,215 Monday that made for an excellent atmosphere. That’s probably the last the Celtics will see of it, though, as their last two games will be played against the 76ers and the Spurs, not the Jazz.
■ Terry Rozier, the 16th overall pick, showed flashes of the speed and athleticism that Celtics executives have gushed over. He did well to find space in the paint and kick the ball out to open shooters, and also soared in for some big rebounds, tying for the team lead with five.
■ Fellow first-round pick R.J. Hunter, meanwhile, had a rough night. There are some concerns about Hunter’s lack of strength, and there were several plays in which he seemed to be pushed around. He also missed all five of his field-goal attempts.
■ The Celtics were missing two pieces in this game, too. Center Colton Iverson has left the team to sign a deal with a team overseas, and guard Phil Pressey did not play. Iverson’s absence was felt in the 51-31 rebounding differential. Celtics coaches have said that Pressey, a third-year pro, would probably sit out some summer league games while playing extensively in others. He could be auditioning for a new team, as the Celtics have until July 15 to guarantee his contract for next season.
■ Lastly, I’m admittedly pretty awful at geography, but I didn’t realize Salt Lake City turns into a furnace in the summer. When I think of Salt Lake City, I think of the snow-capped peaks. But I forget that this is also on the edge of a desert.
Whatever it is, it’s really hot here.