Wizards guard John Wall said there was a time when Jordan Crawford would’ve been out for blood, trying to score 30 or 40 points against a team that traded him away, trying to prove how wrong it was.
Wall said that Crawford, the Celtics guard, would’ve played that way because Crawford is competitive and because he wants to prove his point, emphatically.
But before Crawford faced his most recent former team Saturday at TD Garden, Wall predicted that Crawford would tone it down just a hair.
“I think he matured, so he’ll show them in a better way than he would have in the past,” Wall said.
Wall, it turned out, was right. Crawford wasn’t overly aggressive against the Wizards, who dealt him to the Celtics at the February trade deadline last season.
Instead, Crawford was more measured, finishing with 11 points on 11 shots along with 8 assists.
“I just wanted to win the game,” Crawford said when asked if he had any extra juice by playing against his former team. “Lost one before that, so I wanted to get back on track.”
The Celtics lost, 106-99, so Crawford wasn’t able to get back on track, but he did receive plenty of praise from his former coach and teammates, who said they’re glad to see how Crawford has blossomed this season, emerging as a playmaker and scorer.
“He’s been capable of that,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s a good player that can affect the game in a lot of different ways.”
Wall was a tad more complimentary, and explained that Crawford’s uptick in production has more to do him playing point guard while Rajon Rondo works his way back from knee surgery.
That’s the position Wall plays, and, in light of that, Crawford often played shooting guard during his time in Washington.
But in the games that Wall missed for one reason or another, Crawford typically moved over to point guard and had some of his better games.
After Friday’s practice, Crawford said that he wished he had been more professional during his final days in Washington, where he was disgruntled and unhappy with his role on the team, particularly after he was moved to the bench after Wall returned from an injury.
Wall saw Crawford’s admission as a sign of his maturity.
“He’s been on three different teams in his rookie contract. That’s tough,” Wall said. “When you get to that situation, all you’re thinking is, ‘Am I going to be out of the league?’ Or, ‘Am I going to be one of those guys that just keeps getting one-year deals?’
“I think he matured. He understood and knew how to be more of a professional guy. He already had the talent and everybody knew that. So I think he’s just being more professional. He’s taking full advantage of his opportunity to get a starting spot and show what he can do.”
But Wall still expected Crawford to give his best against the Wizards.
“You know Jordan. You know how he is. He’s a competitive guy,” Wall said. “And when he feels like a team lets him go or something like that, he uses that as more motivation. He wants to show them a reason why.”
Before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens also commented on potentially trying to keep Crawford’s emotions in check, as, in the past, those emotions have gotten in Crawford’s way.
“There are human elements to this game and you can either approach them in that way, or you can just focus on team and controlling what you can control,” Stevens said.
“One of Jordan’s greatest strengths is his willingness and his desire to step up in the moment. I don’t want to do anything to limit that. One of the things that I talked to him about is, ‘OK, this is what we’re looking to do, this is how we’re looking to attack,’ but he needs to be able to pick his spots and choose his spots, and he’ll make some mistakes, but that’s OK.
“We’ll live with that and ride with that. Hopefully the good ones outweigh the bad ones at the end of the game.”
Sullinger hurts ankle
Jared Sullinger limped off the court after a second-quarter collision, but he returned after a timeout and vowed to play Sunday night against Indianapolis. “It’s all right,” he said of his ankle. “It’s a little swollen. Gave it a little bit of treatment, just got to maintain it.” . . . For holiday presents, all the Celtics players had new Xbox One video game consoles in their lockers.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes