Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
With Kyrie Irving out of the lineup because of flu-like symptoms, forcing Terry Rozier to start, Wanamaker was called upon Wednesday night and he gave the Celtics a nice lift off the bench, scoring 11 points and posting a team-best plus-22 in 21 minutes in their 123-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Yeah, he’s been good,” Stevens said. Every time I played him with – in a regular rotation, obviously at the end of games, but in a regular rotation, I think he’s added positive, productive minutes. …
“I think as Danny (Ainge) said from the moment we signed him, ‘He is a pro’s pro. He will always be ready.’ He’s been doing this a long time at a high level. And, you know, he’s 29 years old and he just knows who he is and what he does best and I’m very encouraged by him, too.”
Wanamaker was influential in the Celtics’ big second quarter Wednesday night as they broke the game open, scoring five points as part of a 10-0 run that gave them the lead for good. He was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for the game.
Wanamaker has played 20 minutes or more in a game three times this season and performed well in each of them, which included a season-high 13 points against Brooklyn last week when Irving also was out. Though Stevens would like to give him more consistent minutes, it’s just not realistic when the team is fully healthy.
Herald — Brad Wannamaker provides a lift
The big story of last night was Terry Rozier’s torrid first half, but the guy who came in behind him wasn’t too bad either.
If Brad Wannamaker came to the Celtics last year instead of Shane Larkin, this probably wouldn’t be the first time all season that the out-of-rotation guard led off the Morning Dump. But this is 2018-19 and Kyrie Irving has been mostly healthy and Gordon Hayward is back in the rotation. Larkin came to the green last off-season to play a similar role that Wannamaker has played this year — break-in-case-of-emergency guard who sees most of his minutes in Gino Time. Larkin was thrust into a much larger role and his energy, savvy and ability to get to the rim made for a nice surprise.
It feels like Wannamaker, if given the opportunity, could play that role. He’s a better defender than Larkin was by far, not quite as good at getting to the rim, but an able back-up point guard nonetheless.
It’s strange to say it, but I hope we don’t need to so Brad Wannamaker play in meaningful games this year. If so, that means someone important went down. But if his number is called like it was for Larkin, it sure seems like he’ll be ready.
On page 2, can it just be Saturday already?
The Warriors, who seemingly slothed their way through early portions of the 2018-19 season, have won eight straight games heading into Thursday’s visit to the Washington Wizards. Golden State appears invigorated, in part, by the recent addition of DeMarcus Cousins, who made his Warriors debut last week while returning from a year-long absence due to an Achilles tear.
Call Saturday night’s showdown between the Celtics and Warriors a litmus test or a measuring-stick game or whatever you desire to state the obvious: The Celtics finally get a chance to gauge themselves against the best team in the NBA.
For all their seesaw play this season, the Celtics can right a lot of wrongs by proving themselves worthy competitors on Saturday night. While we shouldn’t put too much stock in a single regular-season matchup, it’s impossible not to get a little amped for the first of two showdowns between two teams widely projected to represent their conferences entering the season. Overreactions will occur and that’s OK.
That both teams come in with a bit of momentum only revs up the hype train. And, joke as he might about the daunting nature of playing the Warriors, it does seem like ideal timing for Boston to get a status check.
“We’re not as good as we want to be but we don’t expect to be as good as we want to be,” said Stevens. “That’s part of being your very best at the end of the year and continually growing and improving.
“We’ll find more about ourselves on Saturday night.”
At the end of Saturday night, we’ll really, truly know whether or not these Celtics have an on/off switch. They don’t have to beat the Warriors at the Garden, but if they’re neck-and-neck with a team that has not only recently been steamrolling opponents, but one that just added another all-star into the fold, we’ll know that wherever the Celtics slot into the eastern conference playoff picture that they’re a force to reckon with.
This season’s Celtics have reminded me of two different teams from the last 8 years:
The 2010-2011 Celtics. They finished 56-26, earned the 4th seed in the east and came within a Kendrick Perkins injury of winning the championship.
The 2017-2018 Oklahoma City Thunder. They finished 48-34, earned the 4th seed in the west, and lost in six games in the first round to the Jazz.
Both of those teams came into their respective seasons with sky-high expectations. The Celtics were expected to finish comfortably in the top three in the east, but they loafed through much of the regular season and earned the ire and frustration of Celtics fans.
The Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony over that summer and expectations immediately mushroomed — they were expected to contend with the Warriors out west and comfortably win 55+ games.
The Celtics regular season so far mirrors the regular seasons of both of these past clubs. The question is, will they end up more like the 10-11 Celtics that flipped a switch, or will they be last year’s Thunder and underdeliver on expectations.
Saturday night won’t tell us for sure, but it’ll be a good indicator.
And finally, bad news out of Indiana
The Pacers’ aspirations were placed on hold Wednesday night as Victor Oladipo came down injured during the second quarter of Indiana’s game against Toronto, leaving the home crowd with bated breath and the shape of the Eastern Conference potentially much different. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Pacers fear their star player is done for the season, and working under that assumption, the injury presents a critical hit to the franchise’s outlook, and puts them at a difficult, unexpected juncture with the trade deadline approaching.
Brutal, brutal news out of Indiana. Everyone seems to love Victor Oladipo the person, and it’s hard not to love ‘Dipo the basketball player, who broke out big time in Indiana last season. Hoping for a speedy recovery and perhaps for miracle news that the injury isn’t as bad as it seems to be.
From a basketball perspective, it will be interesting to see how the Pacers approach the trade deadline and the rest of the season.
The rest of the links
Mass Live — 10 things we learned