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

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

The Washington Wizards plan to roll into tonight’s game against the Celtics donning all-black clothes, as in a funeral procession, a sign of solidarity and an omen of sorts for a game that they hope ends with them burying the Celtics.
 
When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response...“That’s cute!”
 
More than anything, the Wizards (24-20) are putting a significant amount of value into tonight’s game. A victory would extend their home winning streak to 14.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (26-17) come in looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
 
“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”
 
The idea to arrive at the Verizon Center donning all-black was hatched by Bradley Beal, who has some contentious moments, to say the least, with the Celtics recently.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all about the funeral talk which to him is just that, talk. He’s more concerned with his team doing what they need to do in order to win.
 
Nothing more.
 
Nothing less.
 
“At the end of the day, good basketball teams are physical,” he said. “There’s a line you don’t want to cross. Ultimately, you have to be appropriately physical at a high level. It’s about playing well, focus on your next task at hand. This is a great opportunity to see where we’re at.”

In the Celtics' 117-108 win over the Wizards on Jan. 11, Beal was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after getting into it with Marcus Smart.
 
Last season, Beal was on the receiving end of a left forearm to the face from Smart, who was driving to the basket at the time. The blow resulted in a broken nose for Beal in addition to spending time in the league’s concussion protocol program.
 
And then there’s his backcourt mate John Wall.
 
He was fined $15,000 for his role in a postgame incident with Jae Crowder (who was fined $25,000). Crowder pushed Wall’s nose with his finger, which led to Wall retaliating with a slap towards Crowder’s face.
 
And when the two met back on Nov. 9, Wall was hit with a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he threw Smart down hard to floor in the final moments of a Wizards win.
 
The Celtics have a few games that have become more physical than others recently, but there’s something about this Celtics-Wizards matchup that brings out an elevated level of feistiness.
 
“It’s just all talk; that’s all it is,” Thomas said. “I guess they taking it and running with it. I don’t know what it is. I [saw] the funeral and the all-black thing last night and I just laughed about it. We’ll be there tonight for a game, not a funeral.”
 

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

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