Langford’s Confidence Soaring After Giving C's Lift in Game 3
The Brooklyn Nets appeared to be well on their way to taking a 3-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics Friday night, as they erupted out of the TD Garden gates on a 19-4 run in the first four minutes of action. However, it was then that Boston suddenly flipped a switch, as it stormed back to claim a 33-32 lead by the end of the first quarter, before eventually pulling away with a 125-119 win.
That particular turning point for the Celtics coincided with the moment Romeo Langford entered the game. And it was no coincidence.
Langford stepped in with poise against the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden, Joe Harris, and Kyrie Irving, and wound up giving the Celtics a boost on both ends of the court. His energy was so impactful, that Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t remove him from the game for nearly 16 minutes, during which time the Celtics outscored Brooklyn, 46-28.
It hadn’t originally been in the game plan for Langford to play such a significant role, but that changed soon after he placed his imprint on the game.
“Romeo’s first stint went so well that we stayed with that,” Stevens commented Saturday afternoon.
Langford wound up tallying six points, six rebounds and an assist during 27 minutes of action, but his most impressive statistical contribution was in the plus/minus category: he finished a game-best plus-21 in a contest that his team won by six.
Making such a tremendous impact while facing some of the greatest stars in the NBA was a tremendous confidence booster for a player like Langford who typically has an unpredictable role from night to night.
“It’s fun to be able to compete with the best guys in the world, and coach trusted me to go out there and do my best and guard those guys,” Langford said following practice Saturday afternoon. “It just felt a little different, especially for me, because that was my first time playing those significant minutes against a team like that, against players like that, this year. And it being a playoff game that was basically a must-win for us, it was just fun to compete and have fun with my teammates.”
While Langford didn’t stop those elite scoring threats, he certainly had some strong moments and also came away great experience.
“It’s not really too much about stopping them because they're some of the best players in the world,” he said. “It's really about doing all you can to make up for them. They're going to hit shots, tough shots a lot of them. It really doesn't mess with my mental or anything like that because they are the best players in the world, they're supposed to do that. Really, it's just a learning experience for me, because it's my first time on this level guarding guys like that. I can only get better from guarding them.”
Not only did Langford gain defensive confidence from his Game 3 experience, but he also appeared more comfortable on the offensive end shooting the ball, as he shot 2-of-6 from 3-point range after not attempting more than three triples in a game all season.
That was a great sign in itself for Langford, considering how much work he has been putting into his shooting over the last two years from behind closed doors.
“I just feel like I worked too much and too hard on my shot to not keep shooting and to not shoot with confidence,” Langford said. “I'm going to get good results eventually because I worked hard on it. I feel like it's why I hit those two 3s. I feel like I should hit more of them but I'm just happy I was able to knock them down for my team."
Langford couldn’t have picked a better time to step up for his team by knocking down those 3s, while also playing effective D against some of the best players in the world. Thanks to those contributions, both he and the Celtics are heading into Game 4 Sunday night with soaring confidence, as they’ll look to tie up the series.