BOSTON – Before tonight’s game against Washington, Jordan Mickey spent more time than usual doing video study with the Boston Celtics’ assistant coaches.
And when he was on the floor shooting, there was a different level of focus he seemed to have on seemingly every mid-range jumper he took.
That’s to be expected when you’re making your first career NBA start, right?
The second-year big man will be with the first group in place of Amir Johnson who is out with a sprained ankle.
“It’s big. This is what everybody wants to do, wants to play for,” Mickey said prior to tip-off. “It’s unfortunate the way it happened. But that’s why you have extra guys. Guys have to be ready to play.”
For Mickey, tonight is really like going from zero to 100 … real quick.
The 6-foot-8 forward has appeared in just nine games this season, averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game.
His last action for the Celtics came on December 7 against the Orlando Magic.
While Mickey acknowledges this is an excitement moment for him, he knows he can’t allow those feelings to impact his play tonight.
“You have to think about the game,” said Mickey who added that both of his parents are in Boston and will be at tonight’s game. “You can’t let emotions get the best of you. You have to stay focused. It’s still a job. I have a job to do and that’s to help my team the best I can.”
And while this is something that he has wanted, he admitted the news caught him off guard.
“I was a little surprised,” Mickey said. “He (head coach Brad Stevens) sent me a text. I called him when I got up. He let me go, and I tried to get mentally prepared from there.”
Part of that preparation is remembering what got him to the NBA, and making use of the lessons he has learned both with the Celtics and during his time with Boston’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
He has played in four games for the Red Claws this year, averaging 16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.8 blocked shots per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field.
Mickey acknowledges his time in Portland, Maine is part of why he feels ready that he can step on the floor tonight and help the Celtics emerge victorious.
“That’s why they send me there, to get better, work on my game for opportunities like this,” Mickey said.