Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

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Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

WALTHAM Chris Wilcox has no idea how much he'll play for the Boston Celtics this season. But playing time at this point in his career is not important.

Wilcox is in his ninth NBA season, with the previous eight ending the same: no trip to the playoffs. He said a chance to contribute on a playoff team was among the many things that made Boston so attractive to him.

The feeling was mutual, as Danny Ainge told the media today that the Celtics offered Wilcox their mini mid-level exception to come here.

"This would be my first chance playing for a team of this caliber," he said. "I was willing to take this opportunity to come out here to Boston."

The closest Wilcox came to the postseason was in 2006 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Clippers had no love for him that year, shipping him out to Seattle (now Oklahoma City) on Valentine's Day for Vladimir Radmonovic.

His lack of postseason success is surprising when you consider his resume is filled with championship-caliber success at every stop.

In high school, he won a state title as a junior. At the University of Maryland, he was instrumental in the team's first national championship, in 2002. That success led to him being the No. 8 pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

But since then, Wilcox has rarely shown the consistency that comes with being a top-10 talent. In 576 NBA games (250 starts), he has career averages of 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. But in Boston, he won't be counted on to carry the team.

In fact, if he can put up numbers similar to his career averages, all involved would consider the season a successful one.

Ray Allen, who played one season (2006-2007) with Wilcox in Seattle, is happy to see the 29-year-old in a Celtics uniform.

"A lot of people don't know him," Allen said. "Just the fact that he was on the West coast most of his career and playing in Detroit where he didn't play a whole lot. A lot of people don't really know him, haven't had an idea of seeing him when he gets on the floor and seeing his athletic ability . . . it makes the team more exciting."

Allen believes one player who should benefit from Wilcox's presence, is point guard Rajon Rondo.

"It gives Rondo a different dimension, fast-break wise, especially with so many shooters out there," Allen said.

Head coach Doc Rivers has simple expectations for Wilcox.

"Energy, athleticism (and) running the floor," are the qualities Rivers believes Wilcox will provide the Celtics this season.

"Defensively, he can be solid for us," Rivers added. "He's got a good motor. So that's what we're expecting from him."

As for why Wilcox hasn't enjoyed more success in the NBA, Rivers said there's no rhyme or reason.

"I know here, the environment he's in, will help him," Rivers said. "Playing against Kevin (Garnett) everyday, has to help."

Rivers can see the changes in Wilcox in even something as simple as when he takes a water break.

"He's laughing today, I've not had a water break in three days," Rivers recalled Wilcox saying. "I said, 'You'll be saying that at the end of the year, too. You can go get it (water) whenever you want, but we're not going to break for 15 minutes so everybody can sit down and have water.' "

Apparently that was something new to Wilcox.

"That's the way it is," Rivers said. "He's getting used to it. I saw him today, four or five times grab a cup. I want you to drink water all practice; we're just not going to have a whole little seance about it."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."