BOSTON -- In an interview with NBC Sports Boston on the eve of suiting up for his first NBA game, Tremont Waters played it cool.
“It’s taking baby steps, doing what I do,” he said of potentially playing in his first NBA game. “Just playing basketball, getting better each day and making sure I get better and when I do get my time, I’m able to perform.”
Did. He. Ever.
Waters, in his NBA debut on Monday against the Sacramento Kings, was a catalyst for Boston the Celtics, who held on for a 103-102 win over the Kings.
Boston (12-4) got a big game from Jaylen Brown (24 points) and Jayson Tatum (20). Marcus Smart was doing Marcus Smart-like things at both ends of the floor and finished with 17 points, seven assists and five steals.
Still, the X-factor in Boston’s victory was Waters, who had seven points, three assists and a couple of blocks.
One of the biggest plays of the game came when Waters drained a 3-pointer that increased Boston’s lead to 86-81 to slow down the Kings momentum.
More than his scoring, good things happened all game when he was on the floor as he finished with a team-best plus/minus of plus-20.
“Young old-head, that’s what we call him,” Brown said of Waters. “He came out and played well. He makes the right decisions; he’s hard to guard. He was good for us tonight.”
Smart echoed similar sentiments about Waters, who is signed to a two-way contract and was called up from Maine in the G League to help fill the void left by Kemba Walker, who was out with a neck strain.
"[Tremont’s impact] was huge,” Smart told reporters after the win. “He came in yesterday and we went over for him again some of the offense, the defense, and how we want to play. He picked up on it quick. He came in and he’s a good true point guard, he was finding everybody, he was getting to his spots. Guy’s not afraid, he showed that. He comes out shooting the ball, hit a really big 3 for us down the stretch and really controlled the game. We’re excited about Tremont and we’re happy to have him here. He’s only going to continue to get better."
And that bodes well for ‘young, old-head’ as he tries to build off of what was a successful NBA debut.
“He just has control of the game,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “He has control of the game. You don’t have to get too creative with any actions, you don’t have to run complicated things, you just have to get [him] in space, give him a step and let him make the right play."
Stevens added, “I think he’ll play a lot better when it’s not his first time coming out here, but we think he’s really good. Like I said before, we aren’t going to hesitate to play him.”
And as important as the New Haven, Conn. native’s role was Monday, it’s clear he has his sights set on bigger and better accomplishments going forward.
"Kids dream of this moment,” said Waters, a second-round pick (51st overall) out of LSU. “I've been working on my game... to come to the NBA level and to help a team win definitely feels good. But I'm not satisfied with it. I just have to keep working and everything else will definitely work itself out.”
Get ready for Celtics-Nets Wednesday night with Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m., then check in with Halftime Live and wrap it up after the game with Celtics Postgame Live, all on NBC Sports Boston or stream them here through the MyTeams App.