Wilcox making presence known off C's bench

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Wilcox making presence known off C's bench

BOSTON When the season began, Chris Wilcox was an everyday rotation player who entered games as a first-quarter sub for Kevin Garnett.

Injuries, inconsistent play and the emergence of Jared Sullinger (and to a lesser extent, Jason Collins) relocated Wilcox to near end-of-the-bench status even after he was cleared to play following his most recent ailment.

Sullinger's season-ending back surgery has paved the way for Wilcox to garner more minutes, and the veteran is making the most of the opportunity.

Although the final score in Boston's 116-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers was decisively lopsided, Wilcox's play off the bench was among the subtle but important contributions in the Celtics victory.

He will look to do more of the same going forward as a viable option for Doc Rivers to turn to when Garnett needs a rest.

"It's just a matter of coming in there and doing our jobs," Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "We know when KG comes out, we have to hold it down and give this team a lift."

Wilcox did just that on Thursday, tallying eight points and a season-high nine rebounds off the C's bench in just 18 minutes of action.

More than his points, Wilcox provided a presence around the basket and on the break that opened things up for either him or his teammates.

And maybe even more significant, he helped the C's keep control of the game when Garnett left with early foul trouble and Boston was clinging to a two-point lead.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers initially turned to Jason Collins, but he picked up three fouls in five minutes.

In came Wilcox with the scored tied. By the time the first quarter ended, Wilcox had helped the C's pull ahead by four points.

Even with his improved play, Wilcox still sees himself as a work in progress with plenty of room to get better.

"I'm getting there," he said. "I have to get my timing down. I missed a couple of easy lobs. But like I said, that just comes with timing. Other than that, I've just been out there playing hard."

But when he wasn't playing, Wilcox was watching his teammates, figuring out what he could do to help once he was healthy enough to resume playing.

"So I know now when I come into the game, what I need to bring," Wilcox said.

Boston is playing a more uptempo game now which C's coach Doc Rivers believes is also beneficial to Wilcox's game.

But the reason he is starting to see an uptick in his minutes, is because his defense is improving.

"I thought defensively he's getting his hands on balls, he's deflecting balls, he was doing the Tyson Chandler, keeping balls alive ... he was doing a great job (against the Lakers)."

And now comes the challenge which has been there for Wilcox all season - being consistent.

"I know what I gotta do," Wilcox said. "Doc's just preaching defense, defense defense so I get out there and start playing defense and it just turns over to offense. It's fun like that.

Wilcox added, "The main thing is winning man. That's why I came here. Anything I can do to help us do that, I'm all for. Because that's all we're about in this locker room, doing whatever you gotta do to help this team win games."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”