Semi Ojeleye hit the biggest shot of the night at the biggest moment of the game.
Hard work does pay off.
Ojeleye was ready and wide-open in the right corner of the court when Jayson Tatum hit him with a drive-and-kick pass with 2:17 left in the game. Boston led by three but would soon lead by six.
Ojeleye doubled his team’s advantage by catching Tatum’s pass and immediately firing up a shot that rolled around the inside of the rim and quickly fell through the net. Much of Boston’s bench was standing up by the time the ball fell through, because it was celebrating a perfect possession by the C’s.
Cleveland had trapped Tatum on the right wing, and he tossed the ball over the trap to Daniel Theis at the right elbow. Theis then kicked it out to Brad Wanamaker on the left wing, who immediately swung it to Marcus Smart in the left corner. This is when Boston’s offense put Cleveland’s defense into a bind.
Smart caught the ball and quickly drove baseline past his defender, who was attempting to close out on what could have been a 3-point attempt. Smart drew multiple defenders as he broke into the paint, kicked it out to Tatum on the right wing, and then Tatum drove it again before kicking out to Ojeleye for the 3-pointer.
This possession was, quite literally, perfection.
“Semi’s shot-making was critical to it, because otherwise, you can be as spaced as you want, but if nobody’s going to make [the 3-pointers] around the passing, or the dive or the big that rolls, then they can just help,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “So Semi was a huge, huge part of being able to spray it like that.”
The Celtics soon added to their six-point lead when Marcus Smart dropped a floater in at the 1:27 mark to make it a 105-97 game. Smart made the shot after Daniel Theis tipped out an offensive rebound off of a missed trey from Tatum.
Boston controlled the final 87 seconds after that to close out a 112-106 win. That might not have been the case had Ojeleye not made the most important shot of the game.
With three of his fellow starters missing Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers, Jayson Tatum, who himself was returning from a one-game absence due to an illness, knew he had to continue his hot streak. So that’s exactly what he did.
Tatum scored 30 or more points in his fifth straight game and for the eighth time in his last 11 games by dropping 32 on the Cavaliers. That total led the Celtics by a wide margin, as Semi Ojeleye finished second on the team with 22 points.
Tatum shot 11-for-24 from the field and canned five of his 10 attempts from long distance during nearly 40 minutes of action. It wasn’t his most efficient shooting night, but he was still able to command double-teams and traps throughout the contest, which led to balanced offense from the C’s.
Tatum missed his 11th double-double of the season by just one rebound. He finished with nine, to go along with six assists, two seals and a blocked shot.
Box Score Nuggets
- Jayeon Tatum led the Celtics with 32 points.
- Enes Kanter contributed a double-double of 11 rebounds and 10 points off the bench.
- Semi Ojeleye came off the bench to score a career-best 22 points.
- Ojeleye shot 5-for-8 from long distance.
- Collin Sexton scored a game-high 41 points.
- Boston led by as many as 13 points, while Cleveland's largest lead was just four points.
- The Celtics limited the Cavs to just 43.8 percent shooting.
- Boston's bench outscored Cleveland's bench 43-7.
- The C's committed just 11 turnovers.
- Tatum and Sexton tied for the game high in assists with six apiece.
- All five of Boston's starters grabbed a steal, and seven C's overall grabbed a steal.
Quote of the Night
That’s one of the more rewarding wins that I’ve been a part of, coming off of last night
Brad Stevens on bouncing back after Tuesday's devastating loss to the Nets