April 12, 2011
The last week of the NBA regular season often seems like some weird alternate universe. Lottery teams sit anyone with the hint of an injury. And, with increasing regularity over the past few seasons, playoff teams have sat their starters for rest instead of jockeying for a better seed. Career backups decide results, and rosters are filled out by guys who could double as created players in a video game.
That's what the Boston Celtics did Monday night, choosing to run the risk of locking themselves into the No. 3 seed by sitting Kevin Garnett(notes), Paul Pierce(notes), Rajon Rondo(notes) and Ray Allen(notes). Due to that decision, Doc Rivers started Von Wafer(notes) in the backcourt. He responded by making perhaps the single worst play of the NBA season, losing a close game for Boston in the process.
You can watch it above. With the Celtics and the lowly Washington Wizards locked in a close game with three minutes left in overtime, Wafer took a pass from Carlos Arroyo(notes) on the perimeter and cut through the Washington defense for an open dunk. Except, instead of just putting it in like a normal person, Wafer decided it was time to score with style and tried to force the ball through the net with all his strength. It did not work, which Wafer didn't realize. So, like any champion, he decided to celebrate after the play. As Wafer congratulated himself, the ball bounced back out to Jermaine O'Neal(notes) near the block. Wafer, still not realizing he'd failed the dunk, turned to run back up the court and ran smack into O'Neal. Dazed by the blow, O'Neal fell away from the basket and dribbled as a reflex. This, of course, was a double-dribble, which gave the ball back to the Wizards. The Celtics went on to lose the game by one point, 95-94.
By my count, Wafer did roughly 437 things wrong on this play. When you factor in the loss and its effect on playoff seeding, it's possible that this screw-up will lead to a problem in the second round of the playoffs, when the Celtics are likely to face the Heat without homecourt advantage. For a team that hasn't been close to its best since trading Kendrick Perkins(notes) at the February deadline, any edge helps.
So, Celtics fans, feel free to blame any playoff failures on Von Wafer. And then laugh at him, because this play was hilarious.
(Original video via TBJ)
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