Jolted by Nesmith, C's Overcome Slow Start, Soar Past Pelicans

The Boston Celtics needed a caffeine boost to wake them up from a sluggish start following an early Monday afternoon tip against the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden.

Fortunately, they had an espresso shot named Aaron Nesmith simmering on the bench, ready to provide a jolt.

Boston fell behind 42-24 midway through the second quarter, but Nesmith gave his squad the boost of energy it needed to not only overcome the massive deficit, but to then run away with a 104-92 win.

Seemingly unaffected by the 12:30 p.m. MLK Day tip-off – Boston’s earliest start of the entire season – Nesmith gave the Celtics extra life when he was inserted at the start of the second quarter. His stint only lasted for four-and-a-half minutes, but Udoka liked enough of what he saw out of Nesmith to give him nearly 15 consecutive minutes of action from around the three-minute mark of the third quarter all the way through the final buzzer.

“Defensively we were solid overall, but offensively the ball wasn’t moving as much, we weren’t getting downhill, and he brings energy and effort on every play at both ends of the floor,” Udoka said of Nesmith’s impact. “It was really his energy in the first half, we were searching for something with the guys we brought in, and in the second half, he really got it going with that unit,” which also included Enes Freedom, Dennis Schroder, Jayson Tatum, and a combination of Jaylen Brown and Josh Richardson.

Added Udoka, “He was guarding well, he was rebounding well and, whether shots fall or not, the energy and intensity that he brought changed the game with that group, so we rode them longer. He’s a guy who hasn’t played as much so he can play a little heavier stint there, and I thought those guys finished it out great.”

Nesmith finished with five points, six rebounds, and countless hustle plays. He made each of his 19 minutes count, as the Celtics outscored the Pelicans by 16 points while he was on the floor.

Both of Nesmith’s field goals were delivered in loud fashion and on back-to-back possessions. His first make was a driving, floating bank shot, which he kissed high off the glass at the 8:22 mark of the fourth quarter. Eighteen seconds later, he threw down a fast-break slam, which fired up his teammates as they took an 84-74 lead.

After delivering the assist on Nesmith’s dunk, Tatum delivered a heaping pile of praise for his sophomore teammate, noting how Nesmith can always be relied upon to be the team’s Energizer Bunny despite not always getting consistent playing time.

“I can only imagine how tough it is to not always get an opportunity but, one thing we can count on is when he comes in the game, he’s gonna compete, he’s gonna do the little things,” said Tatum, who logged a game-high 27 points along with eight rebounds and three assists. “Regardless of if shots are going in or not, he’s gonna come in and compete. And then when he’s hitting shots and getting deflections, that’s just a plus. So when Aaron came in and gave us a big boost off the bench, it really changed the flow of the game.”

An espresso shot will do that for you, and it’ll come in extra handy on a day when you have to clock in early for work.


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