Celtics

Celtics Spotlight: Can Brad Wanamaker carve out a bigger role in his second season?

Celtics Spotlight: Can Brad Wanamaker carve out a bigger role in his second season?

Having played sparingly as a rookie last season with the Celtics, one wouldn’t hold it against Brad Wanamaker if he decided to take his game back overseas. 

A 29-year-old rookie last season, Wanamaker was used sparingly in large part because the two guys ahead of him, Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier, did what most guys in contract years do — stay healthy and play a lot of minutes. 

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter | Tatum | Fall

Now, with Irving and Rozier having moved on to Brooklyn and Charlotte, an opportunity for an increased role is there for Wanamaker, who admits the lack of playing time last season left a bad taste in his mouth, and it's part of what has fueled his return. 

“I want to show that I can play with this team and on this level, and be a rotation guy,” he said

It’s a successful season for Wanamaker if… 

...he cracks the regular playing rotation and finds himself playing decent minutes behind Kemba Walker. Now we know that Walker is going to log most of the minutes, but there is a chance that this might be the year of load management for Walker. The three-time All-Star has been an iron man among players in the NBA, having missed a total of just six games in the last four seasons. 

However, he did miss a preseason game to rest his sore left knee, the same knee that Walker had a pair of surgical procedures performed on while he played with Charlotte.

Less Walker could mean more opportunities for Wanamaker, who seemingly made the most of his limited opportunities last season when he shot 47.6 percent from the field and 41.0 percent from 3-point range. And in the preseason, he has more than held his own in running the team as well as playing solid defense — two pillars for success as a backup point guard in the NBA. 

It’s a disappointing season for Wanamaker if… 

...this season looks anything like last season when Wanamaker appeared in 36 games while averaging 3.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists while logging just 9.5 minutes per game. More than the minutes played, Wanamaker is seeking an opportunity to simply be on the floor more often. If that doesn’t happen, it will likely be because of the Celtics looking to rely on the versatility of their core of Walker and Marcus Smart as well as Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to facilitate the offense. Or, it could be Wanamaker being beaten out for minutes by rookie second-round pick Carsen Edwards. 

2019-2020 Outlook

The one thing the Celtics like about Wanamaker is no matter how big or small his role may be, his play is consistently solid. Still, like last season, Wanamaker will again struggle to find quality minutes. It’s clear looking at how the Celtics’ rotation is shaping up that they will need a perimeter scorer coming off the bench. Thus far in the preseason, that job likely will go to rookie Edwards, who has shown the potential to be a lethal catch-and-shoot scorer from beyond 3-point range. And if that’s the direction Boston goes, Wanamaker will find himself in a similar predicament as he was last season as he searches for playing time.

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Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Even the best-laid plans go awry when you're too excited about your teammate making his first career 3-pointer.

Celtics rookie Grant Williams finally hit a deep ball Monday night in the third quarter of Boston's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending an 0-for-25 spell to begin his NBA career and causing his teammates to go wild on the bench.

It was a hilarious celebration for a cool moment -- but not the celebration the Celtics had planned.

Backup point guard Brad Wanamaker told the Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb what should have happened after Williams' first 3-pointer.

If you watch the video, Wanamaker actually stuck to the plan and "passed out" on the sideline, but the rest of his teammates were too excited (shocked, perhaps?) to remember to follow suit.

We appreciate the effort, Brad.

According to Williams, his teammates' celebration also included some colorful language.

"A lot of it was graphic," Williams told reporters when asked what the Celtics were yelling at him after his 3-pointer. "Especially Carsen (Edwards), you know. But outside of that, it was a good moment, just because they were celebrating me."

It helped that the C's were cruising to a 110-88 win over the Cavs, giving them full latitude to celebrate Williams first deep ball however they wanted.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Kemba Walker stays ready, even in blowouts, when it matters for the Celtics

Kemba Walker stays ready, even in blowouts, when it matters for the Celtics

BOSTON -- Kemba Walker had every reason to think that his night was over going into the fourth quarter. 

Boston had a commanding lead against a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that’s considered one of the worst teams in the NBA. 

But as the game got a little too close for head coach Brad Stevens’ comfort, he turned to Walker.

And Walker responded with a barrage of 3-pointers that left the Cavs as nothing more than collateral damage in the wake of Boston’s 110-88 win. 

Walker finished with a game-high 22 points which included a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put the Cavs (5-18) away for good. 

Boston led by as many as 29 points in the second half, only to see that lead down to as little as 14 points in the fourth with seven minutes to play. 

That’s when he called on Walker who came up with one big shot after another. 

And the way Walker responded in the fourth quarter when called upon by Stevens was a reminder of just how important it has become for the best players to be locked in from the opening tip-off to the final horn - even when victory seems all but a given. 

Said Stevens: “I just told the team afterwards, ‘If you want to be special then model after Kemba because Kemba sits over there thinks his night’s done, gets put back into the game, drills three 3’s and ends it.

Stevens added, “Special is not for everybody.”

Having spent his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Walker knows exactly what the Cavs were thinking as they steadily chipped away at Boston’s lead.

Understanding the mindset of a team and players on the comeback trail has helped Walker appreciate and embrace the need to always stay on top of his game and ready to go - even when victory seems all but a given. 

Walker understands how a player can lose focus on the game and become relaxed down the stretch in what appears to be a blowout in the making. 

“It’s possible,” Walker says before adding, “But at the end of the day you have to stay engaged through the whole game. You just never know. In this league, 20-point leads go so fast. Teams can score in bunches really fast. You have to stay engaged.”

Which is exactly what he did. 

That not only helped Boston get the victory on Monday, but also served as a great example for the team’s younger players on how to handle themselves when things get sidetracked after going just the way they want them to for most of the game. 

“He set a great example, what he’s done in this league for a very long time,” Tatum said. “That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league.”

And a leader on this team. 

“As one of the leaders I feel I have to stay engaged,” Walker said. “Just like … you never know what to expect.  This league, guys can score so fast and easy. You just never know when teams will come back. It can get a little nerve-racking and Brad felt he had to put me back in. I knew once I got in there, I had to be more aggressive, look for my shot a little more and that’s what I did.”

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.