By: bmark86 | April 25, 2019
Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“The beast, he’s preparing,” said Horford. “He’s waiting to be unleashed.”
And Horford isn’t tipping the game plan when he notes that the unleashing is upon us. The Celtics have enough talent now that it would seem more likely that Hayward or Morris would elevate to a starting role in Boston’s small-ball lineups but it’s fair to expect a heavy dose of Ojeleye and Aron Baynes as the primary big-man defenders off the bench.
“I think this series, [Ojeleye will] probably get an opportunity here,” said Horford. “His ability to space the floor and make an open shot, but then also to defend. And he defends Giannis, and defends at a high level — he’s a great weapon that we have.”
One of the more common Ojeleye nicknames that you won’t find on Basketball Reference is the “Giannis Stopper.” It’s slightly exaggerated because, well, no one has figured out how to stop Antetokounmpo, particularly during this 2018-19 campaign when he’s made an emphatic case as the best two-way player in the NBA.
And, yet, it’s undeniable that Stevens deployed Ojeleye in a starting role in Games 5-7 of last year’s playoff series against the Bucks. He trusts Ojeleye to make things difficult, though player and coach would be among the first scoff at the suggestion of any sort of “Giannis Stopper.” Heck, “Giannis Slower” might be too much.
NBC Sports Boston — Semi Ojeleye’s wall-rattling workouts have readied him for Giannis Antetokounmpo
Al Horford’s forewarning about Semi Ojeleye preparing for “the great battle” gave me some real Jon Snow readying Winterfell for the white walkers vibes: Our Semi doesn’t tire, doesn’t stop, doesn’t feel.
There’s more to Chris Forsberg’s story on Semi than just his possible role as a Giannis foil in round two. It’s clear that Ojeleye, in addition to being a jacked workout warrior, is one of the most respected players on this Celtics team. Guys have gravitated towards Semi since he pulled them all together during his first NBA game to lead the team in prayer after Gordon Hayward’s injury.
He’s spent much of this season on the bench, and subsequently in the weight room post-game in order to work up a sweat on nights he didn’t see the court.
Now? He’s got six fouls, a stout frame and experience in making life hard on the most freakish, unstoppable player in the NBA. If he really has been waiting all season for this, don’t be surprised if he not only gets the call starting Sunday, but answers it.
The key to slowing Giannis (also the key to winning this series) is, according to our guy, John Karalis’ reporting, to make life as hard as possible for him while still conceding he’s probably going to get his numbers. Semi should be a part of that.
On page 2, don’t expect free-agent-to-be Marcus Morris to sign in OKC
“I just wish he never went there,” Morris said, “because I know he could have helped another team get somewhere just by the effect he has on the court.”
Marcus and Markieff are famously close and supportive. Even when asked to reveal flaws about one another, they tend to decline; they won’t even participate in any good-natured ribbing of each other. So it’s in character for Marcus to have his brother’s back. As the season progressed, he said he watched the Thunder regularly because of Markieff. Especially during Oklahoma City’s 4-1 first-round loss, Morris thought the team’s coaching staff, led by head coach Billy Donovan, could have done a better job.
“I feel like they got outcoached,” Morris said. “There wasn’t no different looks at Dame, wasn’t no different looks at C.J. (McCollum). (Lillard) came off, scored 34 points in a half and you don’t trap him. Like, what sense does that make? I just don’t get it. And I’m not a coach or anything like that, but I feel like they just didn’t utilize their bench enough. I feel like my brother went over there for no reason. He never got an opportunity to play. I thought that he would really help them in the playoffs, but from what I seen he should have went somewhere else just to be able to show that veteran leadership and that experience.
May we all have a sibling bond as strong as the Morris’. I don’t have much to add here, but I hope that Markieff’s exit interview with Billy Donovan looks something like this:
The rest of the links:
The Athletic — How Kyrie Irving helped save his alma mater