Semi Ojeleye plays lockdown defense
In the first four games of the series, Giannis scored 35, 30, 19 and 30. Starting in Game Five, Coach Stevens decided to start Semi Ojeleye in front of Aaron Baynes for defensive purposes. Ojeleye’s impact was immediately put on display. In Games 5-7, the Greek Freak scored 16, 31 and 22 (only 7-17 shooting in Game Seven).
As you can see in the video, Giannis struggles to get past Ojeleye’s enormous frame and settles for fadeaway jumpers most of the time. In the first four contests, Giannis’ ability to attack the rim at will was pretty absent in the final three.
Sure, he still got his points, but a lot of the time he settled for a contested jump shot, or a ridiculous three.
Against Philly, Stevens should try to utilize that weapon again, especially since Horford will probably guard Embiid. If that’s the case, either Jaylen Brown or Ojeleye should be tasked with picking up Simmons. I would say Ojeleye is the better choice since he has the body type to prevent Simmons from converting easy layups.
When Semi is not in the game, Marcus Smart will be tasked with guarding Simmons. As fellow writer Dylan Woods emphasizes in his preview article for the series, Ojeleye will have his own offensive struggles, so Smart will be the key contributor off the bench. He’s injected life into the Celtics ever since he’s returned from injury.
Either way, it should be interesting to see what Stevens ends up doing to counter the mismatches that the Sixers throw at them.