Kelly Olynyk paused when he was asked if he recalled the last time he played four games in four days. He gazed towards the ceiling as he flipped through his memories. And then he shrugged and said “I don’t know.”
In their latest “Welcome to the NBA” moment, this contingent of wanna-be Celtics struggled through long stretches of their game against the Houston Rockets. Their jumpers found more metal than mesh (37.7% shooting on the afternoon, 20.7% from 3) as tired legs failed them time and time again.
“I think there’s definitely a little fatigue, maybe a little mental fatigue as well, admitted Olynyk. “But you have to fight through that.”
Olynyk struggled more than he has over the rest of the week, which makes his 19 point, 10 rebound, 2 steal, 2 assist stat line all the more impressive. Once again, “Sunshine” Olynyk dazzled those in attendance with a few beautiful passes and some instinctively beautiful work in the post. He also pulled down six offensive boards, which seemingly made up for an 0-5 night from beyond the arc. He also had seven fouls, which in the real world would have prevented him from displaying his raw talents.
“It wasn’t a great game for anyone,” said Summer League head coach Jay Larranaga. “But I thought Kelly did a great job of continuing to play and looking for his opportunities.”
The Celtics found enough energy to make some runs, including one 16-0 run that made what was shaping up to be a blow out somewhat entertaining. But they faded too often, frustrating Larranaga in the process.
“I thought some guys were definitely tired today but you can be tired and still compete. I felt that we were tired and didn’t compete for the whole time. We had our stretches, but I thought Houston did a better job of giving all-out effort for the entire game.”
Phil Pressey, who reportedly will make it at least as far as training camp, also provided a bright spot with 10 assists. But he also turned the ball over four more times, giving him 15 for the week. That’s something Danny Ainge has told him he needs to work on, so we’ll see how much that hurts him in the future. Teams aren’t fond of turnover-prone back-up point guards.
The Celtics will have Thursday off, which is a chance for the guys to sleep in, re-charge, and take a little mental break from their crash course in NBA basketball. A week full of games and practices has taught them a harsh early lesson about the rigors they’ll face at the professional level.
This is how it is after a week-long stretch in just one city, with 10 minute quarters instead of 12, no fouling out, and facing guys that are nowhere near the level of competition that exists in the show. There is hard work ahead to get your minds and bodies in a place that can withstand tough stretches. If you can’t make the proper use of your time, and prepare yourself for more of this, then your days in this league are certainly numbered.