Wafer steps up for undermanned Celtics

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Wafer steps up for undermanned Celtics

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Lets be honest. When Von Wafer checked in for Ray Allen with just over a minute left in the first quarter and the Boston Celtics trailing the Miami Heat, 20-13, how many people thought, "This will be one of the guys to get the Cs back in it." Anyone?

If you didnt raise your hand, that's OK. Wafer hadnt proved yet that he could be that guy.

True, he had played well in 20 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, but he had also struggled the previous game against the Charlotte Bobcats. A few good games here, a handful of meaningful minutes there, Wafer had not been a consistent contributor, especially not against a team like the Heat.

So what would the Celtics get when he walked on to the court -- a guy who would continue to step up against big teams or someone whod be hot one night, cold the next?

On Sunday, Wafer proved to be option A.

I thought Von came in and gave us some great minutes tonight, Kendrick Perkins said following the Celtics 85-82 win. He was huge."

Wafer entered the game averaging 2.8 points in 8.7 minutes. He scored 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench to give the Celtics an edge with their second unit. Despite being shorthanded by injuries, the duo of Wafer and Glen Davis (16 points) helped the Cs fight back from an early deficit.

The Celtics trailed, 20-15, to start the second quarter. Within a span of two-and-a-half minutes, Wafer picked off two steals and connected on two fastbreak lay-ups. His second layup with 8:36 to go in the second gave the Celtics their first lead since 4:22 left in the first.

The bench won the game in the first half. They got us back into it, said Doc Rivers. I thought in a role-reversal they showed the first unit how we were going to have to win this game, and then I thought our first unit took it from there. But Von and Baby were absolutely huge for us and terrific.

Wafer provided a spark in the second half by knocking down a three-pointer to give the Celtics a 74-61 lead at the end of the third quarter. He hit another trey less than two minutes into the fourth.

He was one of the most offensively efficient scorers for the Celtics, shooting 4-for-5 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range.

Wafer, though, was quick to point out that he committed two turnovers. While he isnt getting ahead of himself, he isnt dwelling on the negatives, either.

Ive got some room for improvement, he said. Im always going to believe in myself, no matter if I miss ten shots in a row, Im feeling good because I know the next ten are going to go in. Thats just how I feel. If I make a few mistakes, Im not going to get down. Im just going to keep coming.

In addition his scoring, Wafer stepped in and played tight defense against the Heat when the starters needed a rest. After taking on Kobe Bryant on Thursday, he was also tasked with guarding LeBron James at times as well.

I just tried to stay low and stay in front of the ball, Wafer told CSNNE.com. The only kink in his armor may be his shooting, so I was trying to make him shoot, but he drove it anyways. I just wanted to stay in front of him, and I did that.

He added, I just make it tough, try to play as hard as I can. If my man scores, he scores. If he doesnt, he doesnt. Im not going to be scared. Ive just got to try to make it tough for him.

Wafer maintains that he is simply doing his job. But coming off the bench for the championship-contending Celtics is different than any other role he has been assigned before. While he still has progress to make, he proved he is continuing to develop and buy into the Celtics system.

Were all on one page and weve got one mission, he said. It helps when youve got guys pulling for you and not trying to tear you down. These guys are here to build everybody up. Nobodys here to tear anyone down, but when you do something wrong, theyll get on you. Its like a family really.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo is putting in the work in an attempt to play in Game 5 Wednesday, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Rondo, who fractured his right thumb and wore a forearm cast during Game 4, was spotted at practice Tuesday dribbling and shooting in a much smaller thumb splint. There's a chance he'll play against his former team in the Boston Celtics. Here's what The Vertical wrote on Rondo.

Around Rondo and the Bulls, there’s belief that the four-time All-Star has a chance to return but a final determination has not been made, league sources said.

The guard originally received a two-week timetable from doctors on April 21. However, he has a history of making improbable returns from injuries. In 2011, he played through a dislocated elbow. In 2013, he played a few minutes after tearing his ACL.

The 31-year-old point guard averaged 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 69 games this season. In two games this postseason, he has averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10 assists and has shot 42.3 percent from the field.

And the Bulls, who are tied with the Celtics 2-2 in the series after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, are desperate for his return. They've cycled players like Michael Carter-William, Jerian Grant and Isaiah Canaan in and out of Rondo's role in the Bulls starting lineup.

Isaiah Thomas on Fred Hoiberg's complaints: 'I don’t carry the ball'

Isaiah Thomas on Fred Hoiberg's complaints: 'I don’t carry the ball'

WALTHAM, Mass. – Following Boston’s Game 4 win at Chicago on Sunday, Isaiah Thomas was asked about Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg’s comments that he carried the ball.

The question drew instant laughter from Thomas’ two sons who sat next to him on the podium. 

“It’s not that funny,” Thomas told them which drew a chuckle or two from the assembled media members on hand. 

Thomas is right, especially if Hoiberg’s complaints result in officials looking closer at Thomas’ ball-handling and do in fact take Hoiberg’s comments to heart as Boston and Chicago gear up for a pivotal Game 5 matchup. 

“I only know one way how to dribble,” Thomas said following Boston’s practice on Thursday. “I’ve been dribbling the same way my whole life. Maybe it was strategic or something. I don’t think they’ll call it on me.”

Thomas said he was watching NBA TV recently where he saw that he had been called for carrying two times this season. 

And just to get a sense of how often the ball is in Thomas’ hands, he made 4,234 passes while averaging 55.7 passes per game during the regular season which ranked 15th and 24th, respectively, in the NBA.  

When Thomas heard about Hoiberg’s complaint, he admits it was an unexpected rationale behind how Thomas torched his roster in Games 3 and 4. 

“I was very surprised,” Thomas said. “Out of everything else that I do on the court, you want to bring that up. It is what it is. I’m going to continue to dribble the ball the way I know how.”

Hoiberg may not realize it, but forcing the refs to pay more attention to Thomas’ ball-handling will also result in increased attention paid to Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (right thumb) who is listed as out for Game 5 but may return to the lineup for Game 6. 

“Dwyane Wade, Rondo, LeBron (James) … I dribble just like everybody else,” Thomas said. 

Thomas added, “I don’t know what he (Hoiberg) was trying to get at. on. And if I do, every other point guard or every other guard that dribbles the ball, carries as well.” 

This time of year, with the way the series has played out of late, Thomas understands that Hoiberg’s comments may be nothing more than playoff politics with Hoiberg shifting the conversation away from what he has failed to do – limit Thomas – and put the focus on something else.

“It may be,” Thomas said. “I don’t know what he was getting at. There’s a lot of games, a lot of dribbles I made and didn’t carry. I’m gonna play the same way I know how. And that’s giving it my all and doing what I need to do for this team to win.”