NBA Summer League 2021 Championship: Early Preview for Kings vs. Celtics

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2021

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) in action against the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of Game 5 during an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings will battle for the 2021 NBA Summer League Championship on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

Both the Celtics and Kings went undefeated in their summer league schedule to earn a spot in the final. The New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves also went 4-0, but with no playoff bracket this year, the teams' point differentials served as a tiebreaker. The Celtics cruised along with a 21.0-point differential, while the Kings edged out the Timberwolves 13.8 to 12.8 to secure the second spot. 

The Celtics-Kings matchup will serve as the nightcap on the last day of play in Las Vegas. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.


Pritchard Returns, Metu Out for Championship Game

Celtics fans who have watched Payton Pritchard stuff the box score this summer will be happy to hear the flashy point guard announced on Twitter that he's returning to Las Vegas for the championship game. Pritchard averaged 20.3 points and 8.7 assists per game in three summer league games, all while shooting 57.7 percent from three-point range.

The 23-year-old missed Boston's fourth game on Sunday, but it was for a good reason. He went to his native Oregon to play in a pro-am game, where he dropped a ridiculous 92 points. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Payton Pritchard and Mike James showed out in the Portland Pro Am game 🤯 Pritchard: 92 PTS James: 63 PTS (via @ssvisualworks) https://t.co/r5Ca6EjCH5

The Celtics did just fine without Pritchard on Sunday, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 100-80 to keep their perfect record alive. Five players scored in double figures, including 2020 first-round pick Aaron Nesmith, who is averaging 18.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in Las Vegas.

Another player to keep an eye for Boston is shooting guard Juhann Begarin, the team's lone draft pick this year. The second-rounder out of France has been having a quiet summer so far, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 24.5 minutes per game.

While the Celtics are getting a boost from Pritchard's return, the Kings will be missing one of their top players Tuesday night. The NBA suspended forward Chimezie Metu for one game after he punched Dallas Mavericks center Eugene Omoruyi in the head during the Kings' 86-70 win Sunday night, per the Sacramento Bee's Jason Anderson

Metu, 24, was fourth on the team in scoring with 10.0 points per game and had also been playing well on defense. He had three blocks and two steals against the Mavericks before he was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Sacramento will counter the Celtics' scoring prowess with rookie guard Jahmi'us Ramsey, who is averaging a team-high 16.3 points through four games.

The Kings will also be looking to get more offense out of point guard Davion Mitchell, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Baylor product scored just four points against the Mavericks on Sunday. He's had flashes of brilliance this summer, scoring 19 points in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies and showing off his two-way potential against the Charlotte Hornets.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Davion Mitchell. CLAMPS. (via @NBATV) https://t.co/iS5R1Wyae7

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Davion Mitchell gettin' shifty early 👀 https://t.co/ehBlFAATcK

If Mitchell can find a groove on offense and perhaps limit Pritchard on the other end, the Kings will have a good shot at keeping up with the high-scoring Celtics on Tuesday night.