Tremont Waters makes big splash in his NBA debut for Celtics

Tremont Waters makes big splash in his NBA debut for Celtics

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.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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