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BOSTON (CBS) – After a slow start to his Boston Celtics career, Chris Wilcox is feeling a lot better wearing green.
“I’m definitely starting to feel more comfortable,” Wilcox said after his second straight start for Boston, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds in a 98-88 loss to the Pistons. “I’m running the floor, just trying to get a few easy ones to get me going, playing defense; that’s all. You just have to go out there and play hard.”
His 4.8 points and 3.7 rebound per game are not eye-popping, but it’s hard not to notice Wilcox giving it his all. And it’s not just under the basket. Even at 6-10 and 235 lbs he runs down the floor on offense, something his point guard has taken notice of, and rewarding the big man for.
“I love playing with Chris. He is probably one of the fastest bigs in the league. I tell him to get out there and run with me and he does a great job every night,” said Rajon Rondo, who found Wilcox three times Wednesday night, including an alley-oop early in the third quarter. “Chris has been playing great for us.”
Head coach Doc Rivers even took the Rondo-Wilcox connection a little further, comparing it to another New England duo that had a record-setting season together.
“Rondo has trust that he can throw the ball up and he’ll go get it. He made some tough passes I thought and Chris caught them and finished. It’s no different, I guess, than (Tom) Brady and (Rob Gronkowski),” said Rivers. “You get confidence in certain guys.”
Maybe Doc took that one a little too far, but the trust between Rondo and Wilcox has grown a lot, and will likely continue to do so.
“I know at the beginning of the year I was dropping a lot of his passes. So we were practicing things like that [and it] helped me out, being in the right situation at the right time. The passes he is throwing now is nothing surprising to me,” said Wilcox.
The 29-year-old forward will keep getting his chances as long as he continues to show the hustle on the floor. Kevin Garnett missed Wednesday night with a hip flexor injury, and it only makes sense to rest the 35-year-old forward for the time being.
While Wilcox and the C’s missed Garnett on the floor on Wednesday, it was one of those opportunities for a player to step up.
“I definitely miss him a lot. We miss any of our players when they’re out. He’s our energy guy and he’s definitely missed,” Wilcox said of Garnett. “At the end of the day, guys have to step up and have bigger rolls.”
Wilcox will be one of those guys, and right now, the Celtics like what they see.
“He’s given us exactly what we hoped he’d give us when we signed him; energy, athleticism, running the floor, finishing at the basket,” said Rivers. “If he can stay where he is at right now, I’m very happy with that.”