Wafer: I just want to play basketball

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Wafer: I just want to play basketball

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- A group of reporters stood behind Von Wafer as he sat at his locker with his back to the herd. He kept to himself while he scanned through his phone, like he had done after so many preseason games.

Minutes passed. He had no idea the media was waiting on him.

"That's crazy," said Wafer. "I thought you were trying to talk to somebody else."

Not on Wednesday night. By the time the Celtics wrapped up their final game of the preseason, Wafer had emerged as the favorite to land the coveted 15th spot on the roster. Training camp invitees Stephane Lasme and Mario West had been cut, and now Wafer, who signed a non-guaranteed contract, is expected to make the squad.

"It's been a great experience," he said. "It's just been fun. It's just been good to get back out there on the court. I feel like I've gotten a lot better defensively. I've just had a lot of fun."

Wafer has goals for himself. The first: To make an NBA squad. The second: To earn minutes. The 25-year-old guard made it clear he wants to play. He hopes that he has shown the Celtics enough potential during the preseason to have his name called. Wafer felt more comfortable with his game after "finding his legs" and felt that the pace of the game seemed to slow down after doing so.

"I think I showed them that I can get better, that I'm willing to just play defense," he said. "I feel like I got a lot better defensively, but hopefully I can continue to play. Just making the team is not enough for me. I want to play. I've been playing in the NBA five years and I've been sitting on the bench for four. You just can't get better sitting on the bench. I want to play, bottom line."

The bottom line on the Celtics, though, is that minutes are not readily available. The team added depth to its bench this summer, making it even more difficult for a player -- especially one who has been out of the league for over a year -- to get on to the court.

"I would rather be out there," he said. "But I've got to take whats given to me."

Wafer doesn't hide his desire to play. It's only been heightened since he lost the opportunity to do so.

Wafer was kicked off the bench by Rick Adelman during a 2009 playoff game as a member of the Houston Rockets. The reason -- arguing about playing time.

He has been out of the league since then. Wafer signed a deal with Olympiakos in Greece but returned to the United States early after reportedly clashing with his coach. He signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks in February, yet never appeared in a game.

"When I didn't get anybody who wanted to sign me for a contract, that hurt," he told CSNNE.com. "So I learned that way."

Wafer says he has learned his lesson and understands what he needs to do to fit in with the Celtics' team-first system. Acting out of line is a mistake he cannot afford to make.

"I think they should know I'm just an emotional player," he said. "But I had to learn to control those emotions because that situation in Houston cost me a lot of money. I cant afford to be giving out money (laughs). I had to learn the hard way to control my emotions. I had to learn through experiences. I know what it takes to be in this league. You just shut up, keep your mouth closed, and work hard and you're going to get paid."

Wafer could get his first opportunity at playing time at the start of the regular season while Delonte West serves a 10-game suspension for weapons charges. He doesn't know if hed get the nod, but if he did, he would be ready.

"I hope so," he said. "Like I said, I just want to play. I just want to contribute to the team. I just want to play, man. I don't know what else to say. I don't want to sit on the bench anymore. I just want to play basketball."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.

Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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