Celtics

Allen's tough love for Wafer pays off

191544.jpg

Allen's tough love for Wafer pays off

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Ray Allen has been hard on Von Wafer. He critiques his game. He tells him right from wrong. He urges him to be a good teammate.

He doesnt always tell him what he wants to hear -- he tells him what he needs to hear.

And Wafer loves every word of it.

Allen sees potential in Wafer beyond the coach-imposed ejection during a playoff game during his time with the Houston Rockets, the European career-gone-sour, and the altercation with Delonte West earlier this season.

Allen sees a 25-year-old with the opportunity to establish himself on a championship-contending team this season. So hes tough on him.

He believes that underneath Wafers previous reputation, there is a good NBA player. But talent alone doesnt guarantee success, and Allen is pushing him to reach that next level.

I believe that he has the talent to do what I do out there on the floor, Allen told CSNNE.com. He can shoot the ball, he can get to the hole, hes got athletic ability. But at this stage, theres a lot of guys that have that. Hes on the same team as I am, he has the ability to learn from me, from what I do on a daily basis. He has the ability to learn from Paul (Pierce).

But the question is, does he want to learn? One. And two, mentally, can he stay with it to try to gain whatever expertise he needs to become one the best players in this league?

Those questions have tested Wafer this season. Rather than letting his pride get in the way, Wafer is putting his guard down to be receptive to Allens challenges. He has learned that criticism can be constructive, which has helped him improve his game.

Ray stays on me in a good way. I love that, Wafer told CSNNE.com. Sometimes Ive been in the past dealing with guys that just try to bring negative attention toward you, make you look bad, but Ray is genuinely helping me and its done wonders for me. Hes constantly telling me to watch what he does and he watches what I do and he critiques me on it. Its been helping.

Injuries on the Celtics have created the opportunity for Wafer to see more playing time. He is averaging more than 10 minutes in the last five games, including nearly 16 on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wafer put together his best performance as a Celtic, posting 10 points (4-8 FG) and six rebounds. The last time he scored 10 points (excluding preseason) was May 17, 2009 with the Rockets, a Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

On Monday, there was a different result - and Wafer was part of the success.

We give him a lot of crap about it because I think on Media Day he says, Im an offensive player was his quote, said Doc Rivers. Hes proven to us that hes more than that. I think a lot of players have that in them, they just dont know it sometimes, and were getting it out of him. And hes actually enjoying it. Its funny to watch him. He gets excited about defensive stops now, and thats great because I get excited about that as well.

Fitting into the Celtics system is important to Wafer. He is on his sixth NBA team since being drafted in 2005, and Allen has stressed the importance of sticking with one squad.

I just want to be a good teammate, said Wafer. Just try not to be difficult to deal with and try to treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I think thatll go far in the end. Im learning. Im doing a lot of things differently. I think I had a lot of bad ways. I dont feel like Im a bad person. I just think I was immature and didnt know. But what Im learning from Ray is the right way to do it and how to do it. I think its helped a lot.

It takes a committed work ethic to make it on the Celtics. That goes beyond the basketball season, too.

Wafer recognizes there is a difference between saying he wants something and doing it. He admits that sticking with a regimen during the summer will be a test, and is aware of the obstacles that lie ahead to develop a routine.

Wafer knows it wont be easy. He has seen discipline pay off for Allen, though, and looks to follow that example - even if it will be a mental and physical challenge along the way.

I really want it. I want it really badly, he said. Theres no doubt, but its easy to sit here and say you want something, but when youre going through it, you learn a lot about yourself.

This is where Allen hopes his conversations will make a difference. If Mondays performance was any indication, their talks are paying off.

Im proud of him, said Allen. He knows that doing everything the right way, theres a reward to it. He can see because I know how he felt today. Everybody came in and told him great job, and Im sure the media talked to him, so hes like, okay Ive got to continue this trend.

One game is not enough for Wafer. Allen has shown him that hard work will pay off over time, and he hopes this is just the beginning.

Said Wafer, I cant wait for my chance to come to try to put out there what Rays taught me because I think Ive become a much better basketball player.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

usatsi_10448410_1.jpg

Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.

MORE CELTICS

Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

tatum.jpg

C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

The Boston Celtics have spent a good chunk of the season playing away from the TD Garden which as we’ve seen, hasn’t been a bad thing.

Boston has an 11-3 road record this season, and are just one of three teams (Houston and Golden State) with double-digit road wins this season.

And while there’s no such thing as a given, the Celtics have to feel pretty good about their chances of getting road win No. 12 tonight against the Chicago Bulls (5-20) who are at the opposite end of the success spectrum this season.

Indeed, the Bulls – owners of the worst record in the NBA now – are a radically different team from the one that jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in their first-round playoff series last spring before the Celtics bounced back to win the next four to close out the series and eventually advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The key in that series for the Celtics was their ability to win on the road (it didn’t hurt their chances that Rajon Rondo, a key to Chicago winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, was unable to play in the last four games of the series due to injury). 

But as good as that team was, this season’s Celtics team seems more equipped to find success on the road in part because they have so many interchangeable parts up and down the roster.

And just as important, there’s more of a matter-of-fact mindset to what they do rather than feeling the need to prove themselves in comparison to other elite teams in the NBA.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

 

ROOKIE STANDOUTS

There has been a lot of talk about Jayson Tatum’s breakout rookie season, but the Bulls have a star on the rise as well from the 2017 NBA draft class in Lauri Markkanen. Tatum leads the NBA – not just rookies, but the entire league – in 3-point shooting (51.8 percent) and averages 14 points per game. Markkanen, draft with the seventh overall pick by Minnesota (but traded to Chicago as part of the Jimmy Butler deal), averages 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies. 

 

GOING BACK TO BACK 

This will be Boston’s fourth back-to-back this season. On the second night, the Celtics are 2-1 with the lone loss being Oct. 18 against Milwaukee which was the second game of the season along with the first game for Boston without Gordon Hayward following his season-ending left ankle injury. 

 

UP AND DOWN SHOOTING

There’s a certain ebb and flow all teams are looking for with their offense, but this is not what the Celtics had in mind when talking about shooting. After failing to shoot 50 percent or better in their first 20 games, the Celtics strung together five straight in which they reached the 50 percent or better mark. However, they are back to how they began the season, shooting less than 50 percent in each of their last three games.

 

TATUM CLIMBING THE CHARTS 

The 6-foot-8 rookie has scored in double figures 16 straight games. The last first-year player for Boston to have that many consecutive double-digit scoring games was Antoine Walker who reeled off 20 in a row in 1997.

 

SMART PASSES

There’s an obsession almost with fans when it comes to Marcus Smart and his shooting. But the stat that fans really need to keep an eye on is his assists total. Boston has a 13-1 record this season when Smart tallies five or more assists.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE