At a glance, Semi Ojeleye’s numbers from the Boston Celtics’ win over the Atlanta Hawks won’t blow you away — eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, and just 1-for-5 from three.
But Ojeleye’s contributions go beyond the box score. His imposing physical stature takes up space in the paint. He can hit the glass with force, and he can carve space for himself when he puts the ball on the ground.
Ojeleye is able to do a little bit of whatever Brad Stevens asks him to do, which Stevens said will likely earn him some minutes against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
Coach Stevens just raved about Semi Ojeleye, saying “he’s really reliable” and that he “does every right thing that you ask, all of the time.” Ojeleye will definitely play again tonight, according to Coach.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 25, 2018
Ojeleye is in his second NBA season, and his shot has always been a question mark despite his diligent work on it. But the Celtics don’t need Ojeleye to be a go-to scorer (although some small improvements would be nice). They need him to be a willing defender and a capable/versatile big body whenever he’s called upon.
As a second-year player picked in the second round, Ojeleye’s strides have to be considered encouraging.
Other pre-game notes:
– Terry Rozier was listed as questionable with knee soreness prior to Saturday’s game. According to Celtics radio announcer Sean Grande, however, Rozier is available and expected to play.
– Gordon Hayward will sit Saturday with ankle soreness, but the issues don’t sound particularly pressing.
Stevens downplayed any long-term issues with Hayward’s ankle. Hayward is currently in the hallway outside Boston’s locker room doing some exercises. Appears to be a maintenance situation.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 25, 2018
– As Stevens noted, this is not the first time the Celtics have faced Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic.
“We played against Luka when he was 16 at Real Madrid, so you didn’t see much of him in that game,” Stevens said. “But you knew since he was 16 and on Real Madrid that he was special. … He’s special. He stretches you from deep. He posts you if you’re smaller. He’s got all of the savvy moves of older guys, and the game seems awfully slow for him. He can just kind of manipulate the game as it goes along.”
Luka Doncic has been a professional basketball player for a long time.
The Celtics and Mavericks tip off at 8:30 EST on NBC Sports Boston.