WASHINGTON – Greg Monroe’s last game prior to Thursday night’s debut with the Boston Celtics, was Jan. 29, a span of more than a week.
Despite the lay-off, Monroe wasn’t any worst for wear in helping Boston escape Washington with a 110-104 overtime win against the Wizards.
Monroe, who signed his one-year, $5 million deal with the Boston just hours before Thursday night’s tip-off, didn’t have to wait long before head coach Brad Stevens called his number (it’s 55 by the way).
Stevens, who said prior to the game that he wasn’t sure if he would play Monroe tonight, turned to the 6-foot-11 veteran in the first quarter.
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And to Monroe’s credit he didn’t disappoint, scoring five points to go with six rebounds and two steals while logging just under 20 minutes of court time for the night.
More than anything else, Monroe had a presence about him that as you go up and down the Celtics roster, has been lacking this season.
“It felt good to be on the court,” Monroe said.
And it was good for Boston, as Monroe’s first made basket came at a timely point in the game.
In the second quarter, Monroe scored while being fouled which turned into a 3-point play that put the Celtics ahead 37-36 with 8:17 to play in the first half.
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Brad Stevens has seen Monroe play better than what we saw in his first game with Boston. However, the fifth-year coach was encouraged by Monroe’s overall play just hours after officially becoming a Celtic.
“For him to come in and, you know, we simplified what we're doing for the most part just to certain actions that we had talked to him about,” Stevens said. “I thought he did a really good job. We'll continue to get more used to playing with him."
Boston went with a big lineup that included 6-2 Terry Rozier at the point, surrounded by 6-7 Jaylen Brown, 6-9 Marcus Morris, 6-9 Daniel Theis and Monroe who is 6-11.
That is the lineup that began the second quarter and ultimately put the Celtics ahead at various points in the second.
Not only did that five-man unit make plays, but maybe just as important was their ability to be effective with Al Horford and Kyrie Irving on the bench resting.
Said Stevens: “One of the things you think about when adding Greg is, that’s time that you don’t have to stagger Kyrie and Al. And so that’s a positive moving forward.”
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And with Monroe’s ability to play multiple positions – he plays both power forward and center – the Celtics will continue to be able to effectively make switches defensively when needed.
“That’s one of the positives we have on our team, our versatility from our wings to our bigs,” Irving said.
And with Monroe, Boston has yet another talented, versatile player in the fold.
“It’s incredible,” Irving said. “Brad has more weapons to work with now. We’ll see how it works going forward.”