Jittery Napier debuts in Heat summer league loss to C's

Jittery Napier debuts in Heat summer league loss to C's
July 5, 2014, 4:45 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Of all the teams Shabazz Napier's first pro game could have come against, wouldn't you know the basketball gods and their sense of humor/irony would have him face Celtics.

For this Roxbury, Mass. native, the emotions of facing the team he grew up rooting for, was never really an issue.

However, his first game as an NBA player certainly threw Napier off his game a bit.

And the result was an underwhelming performance for him as well as his Miami Heat team saw the Celtics pull away in the fourth quarter for an 85-77 win.

Kelly Olynyk led all scorers with 20 points, with Mike Moser and Dairis Bertans chipping in 17 and 11, off the bench.

Miami was led by James Ennis' 18 points.

As for Napier, he had 12 points, but did so on 3-for-15 shooting. Making matters worst was the fact that he had eight turnovers with just two assists.

And while Phil Pressey and Marcus Smart certainly didn't do Napier any favors with their defense, it was evident Napier was experiencing some first-game nerves.

"I came out with a little jitters," Napier admitted. "Right now, it's my first game. Learn from this as quick as I can and move on to the next game."

Miami assistant coach Dan Craig who is coaching the Heat's summer league team, knows Napier's struggles had a lot to do with him trying too hard.

"At times he sped himself up and that's one thing we've ben talking about," Craig said. "Just slow down, let the defense make the mistake, make the easy play."

But as the game wore on, Napier's confidence and overall steadier play began to manifest itself.

However, in the closing moments, Napier saw first-hand how a more experienced player like Pressey can make plays that not only put his teammates in the best position to be successful, but ultimately contribute to what matters most to Napier - winning.

"It's a big learning experience for me," Napier said. "We lost this one, but I needed this one ... It's a big adjustment and I'm looking forward to it."

Even though Napier's NBA debut was rough, Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga still likes a lot of what he has seen in the first-round draft pick who worked out for the Celtics last month.

"He's really good," Larranaga said of Napier. "Incredibly quick, incredibly smart. I know he has a really bright future."