The Boston Celtics pulled out a huge season-opening win over the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden on Wednesday night led by the excellent performances of the team's two stars.
Jaylen Brown led the C's with 33 points, and Jayson Tatum finished with 30 points, including a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference.
The C's bench played a pivotal role in the victory, too.
Veteran guard Jeff Teague scored 19 points and hit all four of his 3-point shots in a reserve role. Third-year center Robert Williams scored four points with four rebounds and a block in limited action.
But the most surprising contribution off the bench might have been from fourth-year forward Semi Ojeleye.
"He looks great, my goodness," Max Lederman said on the latest episode of the "Celtics Talk Podcast" with Chris Forsberg. "He looks skinny, too, it looks like he slimmed down. He was fast. He was confidently dribbling the ball, which I've never seen him do since college. People don't realize, he was an alpha scorer in college. He could do things. But he's just never really looked comfortable in his role as the eighth guy -- just come in and defend and hit shots.
"For a couple minutes stretch there -- I think in the second quarter, maybe it was the third -- he just absolutely was a different player. It was a burst that the Celtics needed. I think if they can get six minutes of good Semi like that, all your slander will have worked its magic. Because he heard your slander, all of you, not just you Chris, everyone out there.
"He really didn't play enough for people to really care until recently. I feel like this summer leading up to the season people were wondering, 'How is he still on the team, blah, blah, blah.' I'm not a Semi defender by any means, but Brad is comfortable with him, clearly. They trust him defensively, and I thought he played much better than Grant (Williams) did (against the Bucks) at times."
Ojeleye scored five points on 2-of-2 shooting and pulled down four rebounds. He also played quality perimeter defense. The Celtics outscored Milwaukee by 20 points in Ojeleye's 19 minutes of playing time.
If Ojeleye can knock down between 37 and 40 percent of his 3-point shots and not be a liability on the defensive end, he could carve out a nice role on the second unit. Consistency will be key, though.
Another opening night surprise for Lederman was Tatum not shooting any free throws, particularly on a night where he dominated offensively at times. The Celtics shot just 11 free throws as a team, while Milwaukee shot 18. Tatum is an excellent scorer, but one area where he can definitely improve is attacking the basket more frequently and getting to the free throw line.
Also in this episode: Why Jaylen Brown was the real hero in Boston's win, Jeff Teague shows exactly why the C's signed him, an exclusive interview with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and more!