The Atlanta Hawks took on the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon, starting their 2021 NBA Summer League journey with an 85-83 loss.
Both Sharife Cooper and Jalen Johnson had impressive debuts, showcasing many of the traits that made them appealing as selections in the 2021 NBA Draft. Johnson was physically on another level than everyone else on the floor, and showed sound instincts on each end of the court.
Cooper finished with 11 points to go with six assists (could have easily been a few more if the Hawks make a couple more open shots/layups), putting on a passing clinic in the process:
Sharife Cooper with an insane, perfect bounce pass to Heidegger who just can't finish the lay. pic.twitter.com/rQLhmJXpNj— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) August 8, 2021
Behind-the-back DIME pic.twitter.com/iV8goD3vCT— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) August 8, 2021
Cooper also got in the paint rather easily, which helped generate points for himself and others:
Count it! pic.twitter.com/4RkTqunfKl— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) August 8, 2021
Sharife Cooper attacking off the catch, decelerates at the rim, and finishes the banked lay. pic.twitter.com/1Pbg3X2rdE— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) August 8, 2021
Johnson posted 20 points and 10 rebounds to go with very solid defensive play, showing off his impressive burst on both ends of the court:
NOPE‼️ pic.twitter.com/aKYvKFQVo1— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) August 8, 2021
20 points & counting pic.twitter.com/GeTFuaS0IR— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) August 8, 2021
Johnson looked like the most impressive player on the floor and definitely flashed the lottery potential he had going into the draft process. He and Cooper both flashed a lot, so despite the loss, this game went pretty well for Atlanta’s 2021 draft class.
It was a competitive game that came down to the final minutes. The Hawks started the game on a 10-0 run, but the Celtics quickly rallied back and it was a tight battle from there. It was a one-point game at halftime with Boston holding a 42-41 lead at the break.
The second half was tightly played as well, as Cooper and Johnson continued to impress and carry the load for the Hawks. Atlanta was able to hang in the game despite 19 turnovers, but wound up falling down the stretch as the Celtics continued to fire away from three. Boston shot 16-of-51 from 3, and made a couple of big ones late to help them take the win. Payton Pritchard led all scorers with 23 points to go with his five assists and two steals.
Atlanta will face the Indiana Pacers Tuesday evening at 6 pm ET.