The Boston Celtics kicked off their preseason in thrilling fashion. Playing in front of a roaring crowd at TD Garden, the Cs clawed back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to steal a 98-97 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The hero of the night? Romeo Langford, who despite limited run on the night, came up clutch when it mattered the most. The former first-rounder snagged a steal and proceeded to knock down a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than 14 seconds on the clock, giving Boston the lead for good.
“It felt good,” Langford said. “It felt good just to get out there and knock down a couple shots and knock down a big one.”
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Langford Making Push for Starting Gig?
Langford played just 10 minutes vs. Orlando — tied with Enes Kanter and Grant Williams for the fewest court time among all Celtics players. However, don’t expect the Indiana product to be short on opportunities moving forward, as coach Ime Udoka highlighted after the game.
“He’ll get more of a shot at another game — we want to see him with the starting lineup, with the second unit as well,” said the first-year head coach.
Langford finished the night just 2-for-6 from the floor. However, he did knock down each of his attempts from beyond the arc, including the game-winner. His ability to answer the bell when called upon earned him a pat on the back from Udoka.
“To sit there for three quarters and to come in and play the way he did in the fourth quarter is obviously good for him and good for the team, but it should give him a huge confidence boost,” said Udoka. “He was able to hit some big shots late. He was extra aggressive. He did some things well, and had a few back cuts on defense, but we’ll clean those things up.”
Yet, while Udoka may have come away impressed with the mental toughness his third-year wing showcased against the Magic, he wasn’t overall ecstatic with the Celtics’ efforts as a whole. “It was a pretty ugly win overall… but we made them late when it counted,” he proclaimed via CLNS.
As for Langford, his chance of cracking Boston’s top-five is likely pretty slim. Four of the C’s five starters are essentially set in stone (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams). While Juancho Hernangomez surprisingly drew the start at power forward in the team’s preseason opener, Al Horford and Josh Richardson remain the most obvious contenders to nail down the final starting spot. Still, Langford has a great chance to take a major step forward in 2021 and vie for a legitimate role in Boston’s rotation — something he’s failed to do up to this point in his young career.
Langford on Changing Jersey Number
While the Celtics are hopeful Langford will be sporting a new and improved jumper this season, one thing he’ll certainly be sporting is a new jersey number. The 21-year-old guard made the switch from the No. 45 jersey he had donned since entering the league in 2019 to No. 9 this offseason and with it shed a bit of unnecessary bulk.
“I just thought 45 was a little big, made me look a little bit chunky,” Langford said following the win. “No. 9 is a little bit smaller. Got a little bit of weight off me, help me jump a little higher.”