Semi Ojeleye earning more playing time due to strong defense

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Semi Ojeleye earning more playing time due to strong defense

Post by bobheckler on Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:43 pm

Celtics Notebook: Semi Ojeleye earning more playing time due to strong defense

By Scott Souza

Posted Jan 5, 2018 at 7:44 PM

Updated Jan 5, 2018 at 7:44 PM

LeBron James got the ball in a one-on-one matchup with a rookie second-round pick.

BOSTON – LeBron James got the ball in a one-on-one matchup with a rookie second-round pick.

James eyed the rookie. Sized him up. Took a couple of dribbles. Then made his move with both power and speed.

When the rookie was then still in front of him, the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James took a step-back shot that was off the mark.

Twice more it happened in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Celtics. Twice more James came up with an empty possession.

Still perhaps the best player in the world, James dominates games in so many different ways. But one way is through his sheer size and strength. Only James isn’t that much bigger, and certainly not any stronger, than Celtics rookie second-round pick Semi Ojeleye.

“You can’t bully him,” said Celtics guard Marcus Smart of the 6-foot-7, 240-pound rookie. “He moves his feet very well. Laterally – east/west, north/west, whatever you want to call it, north/south - for his size he moves unbelievably.

“Especially on LeBron, who is a bigger guy, and we all know how athletic and quick he is, to be able to put somebody on him who is that big size-wise, and just as quick moving his feet, is huge for us.”

Ojeleye was part of the wave of defenders who helped hold James to just three points in the second half on 1-of-6 shooting in the second half of a 102-88 victory. James played 33 of 36 minutes through the first three quarters before being held out of the fourth after the Celtics stretched the lead to 20 points.

“He is one of the best in the world,” Ojeleye said. “Even when you play great defense, he scores a lot, so I’m not going to say that I was the one who stopped him. You have to give a guy like that credit, and just try to slow him down. If he misses the shot, great. If not, good defense, better offense.”

James has made his career through beating all kinds of defenders. If you match his quickness, he uses his physical powers to knock the defender aside like a rag doll. If you guard him with size, he glides past the defender like a statue in a pool of quicksand.

Only with Ojeleye – for a few possessions anyway – he could do neither on Wednesday.

“That’s why Semi’s getting opportunities,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden. “It’s his strength, his desire to be a good defender, and his lateral athleticism for that size. He’s a guy who can keep guys in front of him.

“He’s got to improve in a lot of areas too defensively. But he does have a good mind, desire, and he’s physically very gifted from a strength and athleticism standpoint.”

Ojeleye played eight minutes in the season opener against Cleveland, but that was largely in emergency fashion after the Celtics lost starting forward Gordon Hayward to a catastrophic ankle and leg injury five minutes into the game.

On Wednesday, the plan was for him to see his share of the greatest player of this generation.

“The day before the game when we scout, you know who you’re going to guard, who you are going to match up against,” Ojeleye said. “So you try to mentally prepare.

“But when you’re out there it’s different. It’s you against him.”

Morris misses game

Celtics forward Marcus Morris was held out of Friday night’s game as he continues to rehab his troublesome left knee.

Stevens said before the game the absence was part of a planned night off in his recovery, and was the last scheduled night off in the protocol that began with his return to the court on Christmas Day against the Washington Wizards.

Stevens said Morris was to travel with the team and be available for Saturday night’s game in Brooklyn. He indicated Morris could be nearing the end of the minute restriction prescribed in the rehab.

“You hear a lot of guys talk about how frustrating it can be to be on a minute restriction,” Stevens said. “I don’t think it’s a selfish thing by any means. It’s that when you get into the rhythm of playing, and the adrenaline takes over, you’re not thinking about three months from now. You’re thinking about that moment when you feel really good.

“Hopefully, this is a good process, and it can be lifted soon.”



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Re: Semi Ojeleye earning more playing time due to strong defense

Post by k_j_88 on Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:59 pm

I just really wish Semi could hit his very much uncontested shots.


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