Wilcox a big plus for Celtics
Sure, plus/minus is a somewhat flawed stat, but it's a decent barometer of a player's overall impact on the floor. And given that Wilcox was shooting 72.7 percent (16 of 22), attacking the offensive glass, and providing serviceable defense as the first big off the bench, it's hard to ignore all the good things that are happening when he's on the court.
Maybe more amazingly, Wilcox is still getting his conditioning right while rehabbing his way back from aortic surgery last March. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Saturday that he's taking advantage of every opportunity to stretch out Wilcox's lungs.
"I’m still trying to get him in shape, that’s part of the reason we are keeping him in for long stretches," said Rivers. "If we have a game like [Saturday vs. the Raptors] where you have a lead, I try to leave him on the floor until he almost [raises his hand to come out]. I’m just trying to run him in shape, and we have no practices, so right now you have to do it in the game, which is unusual as well. He knows what we’re doing."
Wilcox has been maybe the most pleasant surprise for the Celtics this season, considering his ability to carve out such an important bench role on a Boston team that spent the summer revamping its roster. It took Wilcox a while to get going last season, but was playing his most inspired ball before the heart woe cropped up. Now he's showing he can be that same sort of player this season.
The Celtics identified early on that a Brandon Bass/Jared Sullinger frontcourt pairing wasn't sustainable as opponents exploited that undersized combo, leaving Rivers scrambling to find someone that could provide a sturdy frontcourt presence when Kevin Garnett went to the bench five minutes into the game. Wilcox has emerged as a vital frontcourt presence and has had success regardless of who's paired with him.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell talks about the Ravens' improvement, the impact of Rob Gronkowski's injury, the Broncos' pass defense, whether Kirk Cousins is a better QB than Robert Griffin III and more.
Play Podcast Ravens QB Joe Flacco talks about his health, Baltimore's win over the Lions, his team's four-game winning streak, preparing to face the Patriots, the keys to success in December and more.
Play Podcast Super Bowl XXXV champion Brian Billick dishes on Tom Coughlin's future with the Giants, the state of the NFC North, Patriots-Ravens and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday dishes on what Peyton Manning is like, Patriots-Ravens, the Cowboys' game management during the Packers' comeback and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski weighs in on Packers-Cowboys, the scrutiny of Tony Romo, Marc Trestman's decision to start Jay Cutler, Patriots-Dolphins, the Chiefs' offense and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter covers the criticism of Tony Romo after the Cowboys' loss to the Packers, the Giants' struggles, Tom Coughlin's future in New York, the state of the AFC and more.