The potential of a Summer League showdown between Victor Oladipo-Marcus Smart had me, and others around the event, excited for nearly a week. They will surely face off in the regular season, but that just wouldn't have had the same feel as it would have had here: two bulldogs, squared off in a fight in front of a gym filled with GMs and scouts and agents and the like. It would have been fun.
Alas, Oladipo sat out as Smart led his Boston Celtics to a 76-67 win over Oladipo's word Orlando Magic, but Orlando coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Oladipo will return Friday. Here are some more observations from the day:
Marcus Smart is a tank
The point guard, built like an NFL defensive end, is a really, really big dude. His neck is thick and he packs on 220-plus pounds of muscle onto his 6-foot-3 frame. And he's tenacious: He is unafraid of anyone and will play right in your grill on defense. He and Elfrid Payton didn't play against each other full-time, but they had their moments.
Smart got the best of him on a series in the second half, when he forced Payton into back-to-back turnovers near half court. Smart was active with his hands and bodying up the slimmer Payton.
The Celtics guard finished with 19 points, five assists and three rebounds. Payton didn't play so badly himself. Well, he did turn the ball over seven times, but he still filled the stat sheet, scoring eight points, dishing 10 dimes, and collecting nine rebounds. He also had an impressive block in which he stretched out his massive limb and turned back a Phil Pressey jumper.
Payton and Smart are very familiar with each other. They matched up against one another several times during the pre-Draft process and the played with each other on the U-19 USA team last summer.
After the game, Payton was asked what he will work on before the start of training camp.
"Just continue to work on my shot," he said. "Familiarity with my teammates, you know, finding out where guys like the ball at, things like that."
Gordon bounces back
In his last outing, Gordon, playing power forward for the first time all summer, scored just four points and didn't snag a single rebound. But against the Celtics, he was much more active and comfortable playing in the paint.
He grabbed eight boards, recorded two assists, and scored seven points. He also blocked one shot. His shot wasn't falling--he missed all three attempts from beyond the arc--but Gordon said that he's trying to remain confident. The young forward has learned a lot through his first four professional games.
"It's definitely tougher to get to the rim," he said. "It's quicker and you have to be more efficient in everything you do. Each move you make, you have to be lower. Each shot you take, you have to be more efficient and in each dribble you take."
Unseld Jr. said that he thinks Gordon is pressing a little bit.
"Some of that's nerves, some of that's probably feeling like he's got to do too much," he said. "And just letting him settle in and get a rhythm is going to be big for him. With five practices, it's tough to get a guy a steady diet, but he's just got to learn to play out of the flow."
He added that some of it is Gordon "feeling his new position out."
"He hasn't had the opportunity to play on the perimeter as much, so this is all part of his development."
Seth Curry shows off his smooth shooting stroke
The Curry family knows how to shoot; that's the cliché at least. But Seth Curry has impressed Unseld Jr. the most with his playmaking ability.
"I think at some point he can be a guard in this league," Unseld Jr. said. "He's respected as a shooter, but his playmaking is underrated."
Curry scored 15 points, netting four long balls in the process, but he also handled the pressure as a lead guard. He didn't record an assist, but he also turned the ball over just once and did a steady job of handling the defensive combination of Pressey and Smart.
"Obviously I didn't get the ball in my hands as much with Vic [Oladipo] and Elfrid [Payton] out there with me," Curry said. "But I just wanted to show that I can play with the ball in my hands and without the ball and try to be efficient when I got my opportunities."
On Saturday, Curry is scheduled to play with the Phoenix Suns in Las Vegas and, as of now, he's unsure whether he will play with the Magic or when he will leave for Nevada. But through four games, he's definitely made an impression on Unseld Jr.
"He does anything and everything you ask him to do," Unseld Jr. said. "He's a competitor."
- Unseld Jr. praised Kendrick Perry, a guy who has piqued interest within the Pinstriped Post community, and his speed. "Defensively, he gets after you," he said. Our own Evan Dunlap asked why we haven't seen Perry any this week and Unseld Jr. responded: "We might. KP's been great; he's had a great attitude. He comes to practice and pushes other guys in front of him, so he's going to get an opportunity."
- Payton said that he will be returning home to Louisiana before training camp. "I'm going to go home, take some time off and then get back at it."
- Smart did this:
Marcus Smart is doing filthy things https://t.co/nJRX4teIBc— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) July 10, 2014
- Curry seems like a real good dude. He's humble; appreciative of the success of his father and brother; and hungry for his opportunity. "It's my dream. I feel like I can play at this level. Every time I step on the court, I try to show different ways I can help teams win. So I'm trying to get better at every aspect, take the feedback that teams (are) giving me and try to work on my game. I'm just trying to pursue this dream and get better every single day." I hope for the best for him.