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The Summer Celtics Gave Us A Murder, Some Scoreboard Chaos And A Game Winner All In Their First Vegas Win

Jeff Bottari. Getty Images.

I'm still not totally sure what happened. It's been hours since the final buzzer and I'm not exactly positive about what I witnessed. I've watched the highlights, I've seen the stories, but I'm still filled with confusion. Essentially, this was me this morning

but that's simply Vegas coming off a game winner high. I can say with full confidence that everything about last night's win was exactly why Summer League is the greatest. It's the worst caliber of basketball you'll ever see while also being the best. One minute you're so disgusted by what you're watching only to be elated a second later. The emotional swings are as real as they come even though these games are very much fake. Or maybe that's just me. There's a chance that's just me but I dunno, I was there last night and you could feel it.

I've seen some wild shit over the years at Summer League, and last night is definitely up there. It had everything you could possibly want and more. Comebacks, chaos, murders, a game winner, we got it all. There's a lot to get to so let's just jump right in and relive the glory.

The Good

- It's getting harder and harder for me to try and think of a reason why Mfiondu Kabengele should not get a camp invite and have a real shot at sticking around. In his two games so far he's up to 14.5/8.5/3.5/0.5/1.0 on 66/50% with 1.0 3PM a night. For the majority of last night's win, he was the best Celtic on the floor and it wasn't particularly close

I love this guy. You know the Celts need big man depth, Brad knows the Celts need big man depth, and last time I checked Kabengele is 6'10. His motor is legit, I was really impressed with his energy and effectiveness on the offensive glass (7), and the Celts don't win this game without his 14/11/4/0/2 on 5-8 shooting. He's also shooting 77.8% from the FT line which is very important to me. There's a reason he currently leads the race in my Summer League Crush Standings and that video goes a long way in showing you why. A team best +26 in his 26 minutes, really the only times the Celts were competitive in this game was when Kab was on the floor. I love his ability to finish lobs, I love how every once in a while he'll step back and shoot the three but only if it's from the top of the arc. He cut his TOs down in this game (1) after having 4 in the opener and the more I watch him play the more I see the potential fit.

Remember, we're talking about end of bench piece/Two Way guys here. You're telling me that skillset can't be valuable if he continues to play this way? He's in theory exactly the type of depth project the team could use. It would not shock me one bit if a few years from now we see Kab in the NBA with someone else and do the whole "How did the Celtics not see it when he was on their Summer League team?" aka the Max Strus Special. 

There are holes in his game and room for improvement of course, but whatever. Enjoy the ride. Kabengele has been the best big man on this roster for a team that needs big man help. That feels important.

- Brad Stevens is going to have a very difficult decision on his hands when it comes to Matt Ryan. If you were looking to see who would step up during this week and make a legit case for themselves, you pretty much have to acknowledge what Matt Ryan is currently doing through 2 games.

He's tied for the Vegas lead with 5.0 3PM a game. Overall, he's averaging 19.0/1.5/1.5 on 55/52.6% splits which tells you one thing. Matty Ice is there to get buckets, and buckets he is getting. In Game 1 he came right in and did nothing but knock down threes as the only guy who could buy a bucket, and then last night it was more of the same

23 points on 7-12 (6-11) and the game winner. First, let's relive that shit a few different ways

Just an insane turn of events. It started after Juhann went 1-2 from the line with about a minute left to tie things at 106. Then came the Mamu poster

I love this dude. If he was on the Celts summer roster, everyone would declare him a lock to stick around. He kinda does it all in terms of scoring out of the post, hitting threes, he's quick as hell for a big guy etc. He was a monster in this game and after that poster many thought that was it.

Then we had JD going to the line with 11 seconds left and the crowd thinking the Celts trailed 106-108 only for him to miss the first FT. It was at that moment that I wanted to kill myself. You gotta make your FTs kids, especially with the game on the line. After making the second to bring it to 107-108 there was a pause. Suddenly the scoreboard read 108-107 and the Celtics were suddenly leading. Nobody had any idea what the hell was going on, the coaches included

If you watched the 2021-21 Celts season, this was a familiar occurrence to you. It didn't matter if the game was on NBCBoston, ESPN, or TNT, there were at least 3-4 times last year where the score was flat out wrong. The TV says one thing, the ESPN box score says another, it's madness. To get more of that in Summer League was very comforting. After that little scoreboard malfunction that screwed the Bucks, you knew the officials were going to make it up to them which is exactly what happened on the next possession. Lindell Wigginton went to the line on an iffy call and knocked down his 2 FTs to make it 109-108 with 6 seconds left. From there, Matt Ryan ended things in heroic fashion.

The shot was great. His overall game was fantastic, but it was the postgame presser that really shows you what Summer League means to these guys

Impossible to not be rooting for Matt Ryan with the way he's stepped up to start this week. 

So here's where Brad's tough decision comes in. You watch Ryan play and it's more than just his ability to knock down threes at a high clip. It's how he's scoring that stands out to me. This is a guy that is WAY MORE comfortably moving off ball and off screens in order to generate his looks. Sam Hauser is the sharpshooter, but he's way more of a catch & shoot guy. He's not really great at coming off screens or moving off ball to create a sliver of space for himself. He's a guy that when Jaylen/Tatum are doubled you have in the corner and just start walking back because you know it's going in.

I look up and down the roster right now and I don't really see that sniper shooter who is also comfortable away from the ball like Ryan is. There's value in that. The issue here is roster space. Let's think this out

Guards: Smart, Brogdon, White, Pritchard, JD (Two Way)

Wings: Tatum, Jaylen, Gallo, Hauser

Bigs: Rob, Al, Grant, Kornet

That's 13 players. The Celts had the second Two Way and one guaranteed roster spot left. As fun as these games are, I think most would prefer they fill that guaranteed spot with a proven veteran big on the minimum. The issue here is, Ryan could have such a good summer where he has better options than a Two Way deal. It's basically going to come down to whether Brad can find that veteran big or not. At that point, I think Kab gets the other Two Way. Is it possible he gets the final guaranteed spot and they just use Kab as the depth big on a Two Way? I suppose. But I'm not sure that would be the ideal front court grouping once the games actually matter. Especially if Al is going to be load managed. 

- There are times when you watch the Summer Celts that your love and trust are tested. That is especially true when it comes to Juhann. I thought he was pretty bad in Game 1, especially when it came to his jumper. In Game 2 for the first half it was more of the same. He looked like a guy who had lost his confidence. His shot was nowhere close, and wasn't really getting by people and mostly was dribbling to nowhere. Nothing but turnovers and misses for the second straight game.

But then something clicked.

Now you can see the potential. When I get excited about Juhann in transition, that highlight package is exactly what I'm talking about. You can see why the organization likes him. His athleticism is insane, he's a defensive minded player with great size who is already well experienced in the art of murdering people

Many people are saying this is Young Jaylen 2.0. A little bit out of control, can't really shoot or dribble, is super athletic and will put you 6ft under if given the chance. I'm not ready to say that yet, but people are. You don't have to fact check me on that.

That poster also reminded me of another Summer League murder we saw just last season via Romeo

and all we can do is hope that Juhann's future is a little bit better considering this was basically the highlight of Romeo's 2021-22 season. You have to remember that Juhann is still so young too. He's only 19 years old (turns 20 in August) and still incredibly raw. He's most likely heading back overseas after this week and that's OK. This is really just a check in for him to see how he's developing. 

You'd like to see more improvement in both his shooting and overall shot selection while also figuring out how to not turn the ball over at a high rate, but in open space this dude is lethal. 

Maybe this is the performance that gives him some legit confidence after a slow start, because man is he an exciting player. 

- After not being able to shoot for shit in Game 1, it was nice to see the Summer Celts bounce back with 19 3PM shooting 41% from behind the arc. They also passed the magic assist number (20) with 23 while also winning the rebounding battle. Basically everything they didn't do in Game 1 they found a way to do in Game 2 and they won. Imagine that!

- It probably won't matter when you break down the roster crunch, but I thought Brodric Thomas carried this team early. He was really the only one giving them anything offensively, with all his made baskets coming from behind the arc (4-8)

Given the roster construction and the drafting of JD, I'm not sure how much longer his Celtics tenure will be, but he was the Summer Celts best guard at least offensively last night for sure. 

- It was nice to see Sam Hauser finally look like himself from behind the arc after his very strange 1-9 performance in Game 1. He tweaked his shoulder so he only played 18 minutes, but was 4-9 and had 12 points in those 18 minutes while being a +18. We all know he can shoot so while that's nice to see, what I'm really watching with him this summer is his defense. If he wants to see the floor, he's going to have to show Ime that he can at least hold his own and not be a gigantic negative on that end. For the most part, I don't think Hauser has been terrible, which is a step in the right direction.

He's not the quickest fella out there but I'd say he's held his own. Especially in the post. He's weirdly an OK post defender. The issue is if he's going to be playing the wing in the real NBA, those dudes are about a billion times faster and stronger so there will be some growing pains there. 

- I love that JD guards 94 feet. That's why he's Baby Smart. He also seems to be very good at blocking jumpers/floaters from behind which intrigues me. Part of me wishes he wasn't getting beat initially, but the other part of me loves that he doesn't quit on the play. During the final stretch of the comeback there were multiple strips and defensive plays by JD to save possessions. His vision is legit as he led the Summer Celts in assists (6). 

Defensively and in terms of his passing, I thought JD was great. Unfortunately, there was more to his game that we'll get to, but those areas stood out as a positive for sure.

The Bad

- Leave it to the officials to think everyone came to Vegas to see them. I mean what was that shit? A combined 54 fouls were called in this game. 54! In a fake game! Grow up. A total of 4 of the 5 Summer Celts starters had 5 fouls. Both teams took at least 26 FTA. Every two seconds there was a whistle, it was ridiculous. Then to give Juhann a tech after that poster? Again, grow up. We're here to see some meaningless basketball, not FTs. Someone tweeted me that they were killing the officials on ESPN and rightfully so. That shit was so annoying. I have to deal with Tony Brothers' bullshit during the year, I shouldn't have to get mad at officials in Summer League, it's supposed to be our safe space.

- I was ready to drive Justin Jackson to the airport when he took that 30fter with 3:29 left and the Celts trailing 101-100. Part of it was the PTSD from Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but also read the room guy. Juhann just completed the murder, momentum was in the balance and he took that shit with what felt like 20 seconds on the shot clock. Of course, guess what happened next? The Bucks came down and made a three.

Tell me you haven't seen that shit before. I know it's extremely deranged to get this upset about a single 3PA in a fake game, but I can't help it. In the moment, I fucking hated that shot.

- It seems physically impossible to give up 39 points in a 10 minute quarter, but that's exactly what the Summer Celts did in the 3rd. Christ guys, have some pride. I'm not really sure why God is making me relive the NBA Finals through the play of the Summer Celts, but I don't care for it one bit. The Bucks had 44 first half points, and 39 in the 3rd. Gross. Unacceptable behavior from everyone involved. They came out and punched first and it took a long time for the Summer Celts to eventually match their intensity.

- In Game 1 JD was great in terms of his AST:TO ratio. I think we'll all take 6:1. That was very much not the case in Game 2, where he finished with a not so great 6:5 ratio. Add in his 1-5 shooting, and this was certainly a come back down to earth game. Like I said before his defense and passing was good, but I didn't love the carelessness or inability to make a bucket. 

Essentially, he gave us a Marcus Smart Experience performance and since he's Baby Smart I can't get too mad at it, but I am interested to see how he bounces back.

The Ugly

- I think we just all have to accept that a fuck ton of TOs are simply in this organization's DNA. They can't shake it. They started the game on pace for 24, but somehow only finished with 17. The issue there is 12 of them came from two players. JD had 5, Juhann had 7. Like I said, he's Young Jaylen (no, I'm not over the Finals, can you tell?). Juhann's were pretty brutal since they were the killer live ball TOs that come via dribbling into nowhere, and at this point I'll be shocked if we ever see a Celtics game again where they don't turn it over a billion times. That's our life now.

Now we turn the page to the big one. Tonight vs GS. Sure they may have won the NBA title, but that shit doesn't matter right now. Summer League is what matters. Now that the Summer Celts have tasted victory, it's time to keep this train moving. Love and Trust.