Celtics

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.

Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak

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Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak

For the past few games, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted about his team showing signs of slippage in his team’s play and overall execution.

“We need to get back, better attention to detail, from the last couple of games we had,” Stevens told reporters prior to the game. “Our techniques haven’t been great the last couple games.”

It finally caught up to them, as the Celtics could not muster up the usual defensive stops and clutch shot-making that catapulted them to one of the greatest runs in franchise history that came to an end Wednesday night as the Heat ended Boston’s 16-game winning streak by handing the Celtics a 104-98 loss.

The Miami backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters scored 27 and 26 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving’s 23 points and Jayson Tatum who had 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Celtics (16-3) suffered their first loss since the second game of the season against Milwaukee (108-100), and their first road defeat since a 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland.

Trailing by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Boston made it a single-digit game (91-84) following a 3-pointer by Tatum.

But when it mattered most, Boston made way too many mistakes and didn’t capitalize on the opportunities to put serious pressure on the Heat.

  • Trailing 91-89, Marcus Smart split a pair of free throws.
  • Trailing 94-90, Al Horford – an 83.8 percent free throw shooter coming into tonight’s game – missed a pair of free throws.
  • Down 97-92, Jaylen Brown throws a full-court errant pass that sails out of bounds.
  • Celtics down 99-94 with less than a minute to play force a missed shot, but fail to get the rebound as it sails out of bounds off Terry Rozier.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, whose 16-game winning streak is a thing of the past that was the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

Boston once again found itself playing from behind in the first half, with the Heat pulling ahead by as many as 18 points. However, an 11-6 run to end the second quarter by Boston trimmed Miami’s lead at the half down to 54-41 at the half.

The third quarter has usually been the start of Boston’s comeback.

But to the Heat’s credit, Miami was able to maintain their double-digit lead until a 3-pointer by Al Horford made it a 58-50 game with just over eight minutes to play.

But the Heat responded with four straight points which put Miami up 62-50, leading to a Brad Stevens time-out with 7:28 to play in the third.

The Celtics continued to try and battle back, but the Heat refused to budge on its double-digit lead which stood at 16 points (79-63) going into the fourth quarter.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Baynes in Celtics starting lineup in battle with Whiteside

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Baynes in Celtics starting lineup in battle with Whiteside

Brad Stevens has said on more than one occasion the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup may fluctuate based upon who they play which is indeed the case against the Miami Heat tonight.

Stevens said 6-foot-11 center Aron Baynes will replace Marcus Morris in the starting lineup tonight to help battle Miami 7-footer Hassan Whiteside. He will join a unit that includes Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

Boston defeated Miami earlier this season 96-90, but Whiteside did not play due to injury.

“We’ve mixed and matched all year with our starters,” Stevens told reporters.

Regardless of who the Celtics were playing tonight, there was a good chance that Baynes would be in the starting lineup for Morris who is having some more soreness in his left knee which sidelined him for the first eight games of the season.

Morris, who has started the last four games and seven of the last eight, is questionable to play tonight.

“We’ve been trying to manage his minutes the best that we can,” Stevens said. “But for whatever reason, he had a little bit (of soreness) in Dallas. He feels a lot better, two days later. But we want to make sure.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE