Celtics’ Semi Ojeleye Was More Than Ready For His First Start Of Season

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November 2, 2018

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics were down a starter Thursday night, and an unlikely source stepped in to fill the void.

With Jaylen Brown (foot soreness) sidelined for the Celtics’ matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, conventional knowledge would lead you to believe either Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier or maybe even Marcus Morris would take Brown’s spot in the starting five. But it was Semi Ojeleye who wound up getting the nod, and the second-year forward’s efforts helped lift the C’s to a 117-113 win at TD Garden.

It was a tall task for Ojeleye, who’d only logged 23 total minutes through seven games entering Thursday. The SMU product didn’t have the luxury of easing himself into a rhythm, as he frequently was tabbed with defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the NBA’s toughest covers. Still, Ojeleye did fine work on the Greek Freak and added 10 points and five rebounds to boot.

It’s not often Ojeleye is a talking point after a game, but head coach Brad Stevens was eager to heap praise on the 23-year-old following his first start of the campaign.

“I think everybody here knows what I think about Semi and you know, whether he starts or doesn’t play, he’s the first guy in the gym the next day working, and he’s a really, really good teammate,” Stevens said. “And he was ready to be called upon, which is, I think, one of the hardest things to do when you’re a guy who’s playing sporadically.”

Marcus Morris echoed Stevens’ sentiments.

“I’m very proud of Semi,” Morris said. “He didn’t play in a lot of the games and coming in and starting and having a really good impact on the game. He was able to defend Giannis at different points in the game. That’s another addition to the BWA (Bench With Attitude).”

Boston likely won’t turn to Ojeleye much when fully healthy, as its depth arguably is the best in the league. But for Stevens and the Celtics, it’s a major plus to be able to call on an end-of-the-bench player on short notice and see immediate results.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez and outfielder Andrew Benintendi
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