Pregame Post-Ups: Langford’s Defense has Been a Pleasant Surprise

Friday, August 7 - Celtics at Raptors

Pregame – Langford’s Defense has Been a Pleasant Surprise

Romeo Langford’s resume heading into the draft last summer suggested that he had the potential to become an offensive force in the NBA. What may have flown under the radar, at the time, was the rookie’s promise on the defensive end, which is where he has made his greatest impact of late.

"I would say that his defense has been a surprise,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted ahead of Friday night’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors. “He was certainly capable defensively when he came, but he’s put in a lot of work with (assistant coach) Joe Mazzulla to get ready for that both individually and understanding the system and understanding what his role his in each play and how to best defend.”

Stevens’ trust in Langford’s defense became apparent in February, when he called upon the youngster to help close out a handful of wins. Teams tested him because of his rookie status, but the eager wing never backed down.

“They can try me; a lot of people try me,” Langford told NBC Sports Boston following a particularly impressive defensive effort against Minnesota in February. “It’s just funny to me. Because I know what I can do defensively.”

Langford reminded the world exactly what he could do on that end of the floor Wednesday night while facing off against the Brooklyn Nets. After entering the game late in the first quarter, he helped to turn a one-point Celtics deficit into an 18-point lead in a matter of four minutes, largely thanks to his lockdown perimeter defense.

Stevens lauded Langford after the game, saying, “He’s one of our more solid defenders, and that’s going to give him a chance to play.”

On Friday night, Stevens went on to hint that we could be seeing plenty more of Langford during the upcoming weeks.

"His chance of getting on the court in the Playoffs or games where we're fully healthy is to be a ball-mover, be a cutter, make an open shot, and guard,” said the coach. “I think that's what it boils down to right now. As he gets older he’ll have more responsibility, and right now, if he can do those things, then he adds to our team.”

- Taylor Snow

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