Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found the missing piece. After struggling to live up to expectations throughout much of the season, the Boston Celtics are currently undefeated when Romeo Langford is in the lineup.
Ok, we may be jumping the gun here as it’s only been one game, but the 21-year-old wing certainly put forth a quality performance in his much-awaited sophomore debut. While a three-point output may not jump off the screen, Langford flashed tantalizing traits on both ends of the court in his 12 minutes of court time.
Count guard Kemba Walker in amongst the observes who came away impressed by Langford’s efforts on Sunday. The former All-Star point guard praised his teammate following Boston’s 30-point victory over the Charlotte Hornets and expects the Indiana product to pay huge dividends for the Celtics down the stretch.
“Romeo is a really important piece of what we want to do,” Walker told reporters. “He worked super, super hard to get back to where he is now. I’m excited for him, excited for his opportunity because he’s gotten so much better. It’s been a rough year for him to try to get back on the court. I’m really excited he’s back and tonight he was great. He didn’t skip a beat at all. Defensively, he was great. I believe he only took maybe two shots or so. It will come. He’s going to be key to what we are trying to do.”
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Langford Flashes Defensive Upside
A former Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana, Langford’s scoring prowess has rarely been questioned. The 6-foot-4-inch, 216-pound slasher has always proven capable of putting the ball in the basket. However, it’s his efforts on the defensive end of the court that will likely earn him more minutes with the Celtics as the season continues on.
Langford flaunted his two-way potential vs. the Hornets, stroking in a 3-pointer on one end, then getting back on defense on the other end of the court to meet Charlotte forward Miles Bridges at the rim for a two-handed stuff.
“I feel like I’m the best in isolation. I don’t let my guy go around me,” Langford said of what he brings to the table defensively. “With that being said, that means the team doesn’t really have to overhelp as much and give up more threes when it comes to the guy I’m checking.”
Coach Stevens Talks Langford’s Performance
Originally slated to make his 2020-21 season debut after the All-Star break following a torn ligament in his thumb, a positive COVID-19 test struck Langford hard approximately one month ago, prolonging his return to the court.
“It was pretty bad when I had the symptoms,” Langford claimed. “I had the symptoms for about four or five days and it hit me pretty hard. I felt like I had a really bad flu and then I ended up losing my taste and smell. I really still can’t smell that much. So I wasn’t really allowed to do anything for two and a half weeks. So my main thing coming back was just getting my wind and getting my feel for the game and feeling the ball and stuff like that.”
Celtics star Jayson Tatum’s battle with COVID earlier this season was well documented, with the two-time All-Star noting struggles with breathing and fatigue. Langford acknowledged he’s felt similar aftereffects to that of his teammate.
“I’m still feeling those things,” Langford said. “It hits me every once in a while with my breathing, but it’s not too bad anymore since my first couple of workouts.”
With that said, Langford looks well on his way to a full recovery as the second-year pro expects to be wheels up in the coming days.
“Today was good,” he said. “I had pretty good workouts the last couple of days. I feel like I’m just about there. I’m mainly now just getting my legs back under me. I’ve got the feel for the game. I ain’t lost that. But just my legs and my conditioning, that’s the only main thing.”
While Langford may still be working his way back into game shape, head coach Brad Stevens was more than pleased with his former first-round pick’s efforts vs. the Hornets.
“Yeah, he was good,” Stevens said of Langford. “Solid. Obviously, it was nice to have him back on the floor and, after he caught the ball out of bounds on the first catch, I thought he did a lot of good things.”