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."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”