A. Sherrod Blakely's Truth and Rumors

191544.jpg

A. Sherrod Blakely's Truth and Rumors

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON One man goes down. Someone steps up.

It has been like that all season for the Boston Celtics.

So when Marquis Daniels went down with a bruised spinal cord injury recently the Celtics were not in panic mode, even though losing Daniels for the next month or two will rob them of their most versatile player off the bench.

Someone has to fill the void left by Daniels, and all indications are that it will be Von Wafer.

We have seen Wafer play well in spurts, in part because those were the only minutes made available to him.

But the more we see Wafer play, the more he shows signs of being a much more complete player than the shot-chucking-guard label that has followed him throughout his NBA career.

"This team has embraced me, and taught me," Wafer told CSNNE.com. "In the past, people just beat me up, but this team, they took me in and showed me the right way to do it. And it's paying dividends."

Now that an opportunity to play more exists, we'll see if the 6-foot- 5 guard will do what so many of his teammates have already done.

One man goes down. Someone else steps up.
Mavericks pose great challenge to C's

When Danny Ainge went about putting this Celtics team together this summer, the goal was to have a squad that would challenge the Los Angeles Lakers.

But it's becoming clear that the C's might face an even bigger foe out West - and it's not the San Antonio Spurs, who have the league's best record.

It's the Dallas Mavericks, the only team to sweep the C's thus far this season.

When you look at the teams out West, the Mavericks present a series of challenges that few others do for the C's.

They have a nice 1-2 punch at center in Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood.

And as we know, when the playoffs roll around, size does matter.

The Mavs are led by 32-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, who is still one of the best players in the NBA.

Future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd is nearing the end of his career, but he's still one of the tougher point guard matchups in the NBA.

Although the Mavericks don't appear to have as much depth as the C's, they do have a pair of high impact scorers in Jason Terry and Shawn Marion, along with Haywood coming off the bench.

Dallas recently added Peja Stojakovic to their roster, giving them even more offensive firepower off the bench.

"This is a good fit for me," Stojakovic told CSNNE.com. "We have a lot of really good shooters here already."

It all adds up to a talented team that may present an even bigger challenge to the C's than the two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Trade deadline coming up

With the trading deadline just a couple weeks away, the Celtics will do as they always do and make calls to see if there's a way to improve their roster.

Because of all the injuries, there's a knee-jerk reaction to believe that, yes, the C's need to make a move.

Not so fast, people!

We're 51 games into the season, and the Celtics have yet to play a single game with the player rotation they expect to have for the playoffs.

But there are reasons why the C's aren't likely to make a deal.

Any deal involves having assets that 1) you're willing to part with, and 2) others might be interested in acquiring.

The Celtics appear to come up short on one or both of those fronts.

But that's OK.

We've seen what the Celtics can do with a roster that's not at full strength.

Knowing that most of their injured players will be back in time for the playoffs is reason enough for the Celtics to stand pat and give this team - one constructed to go deep into the playoffs - a chance to bring home Banner 18 as they are constructed now.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

The last time Boston played at Washington, the Wizards buried them by 25 points.

It seems the Wizards have a similar mindset for Tuesday’s game which will feature every Wizards playing showing up in all-black.

“You know where we’re going with that,” Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. told the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

Yes.

We do.

But in case anyone wasn’t sure, let John Wall put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you and explain in succinct terms.

“A fun-er-ral!” he said with the man who thought this up, Bradley Beal, in the background yelling, “Yaa!”

The Celtics players acknowledged that Tuesday’s game would most likely be a physical, trash-talking affair.

That stems from their matchup two weeks ago that included a lot of physical play both teams that ultimately ended with the Celtics coming away with a 117-108 win.

ROUND ONE: THE JANUARY 11 GAME

Bradley Beal was whistled for a flagrant-one foul against Marcus Smart that seemed to get both benches hyped up.

Those two have a history dating back to last season when Smart, while driving to the basket, landed his left forearm across Beal’s face. The blow resulted in Beal’s nose being broken in addition to being put in the league’s concussion protocol program.

And after the Jan. 11 game, Jae Crowder and John Wall had a heated exchange of words that ended with Crowder’s pushing his finger into Wall’s nose, and Wall retaliating by slapping Crowder’s face.

The league fined Crowder $25,000 and Wall $15,000 for their roles in the incident.

“It’s going to be a competitive game,” Wall said. “Hopefully everybody just keep it clean and … makes it one of those great battles.”

Said Beal: “We want to keep it clean as much as possible but we know it’ll probably get chippy, a little trash talking.”

Isaiah Thomas, who was whistled for a technical foul in the Jan. 11 game, understands emotions will run pretty high in Tuesday’s game.

 “You just have to be ready for whatever comes our way,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to shy away from it. But we’re all human. There will probably be a little bit of physicality, a little bit of things to carry over to tomorrow’s game. But the most important thing is we just have to try and take care of business.”