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Brad Wanamaker steps up in Celtics' regular-season finale

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The former Pitt guard scored 17 points and led the team with seven assists

NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt standout Brad Wanamaker put on the best performance of his NBA career on Tuesday night, as he accounted for 17 points, six rebounds and a team-high seven assists in the Boston Celtics’ 116-110 win over the Washington Wizards.

Wanamaker’s 17 points were a personal best since his transition to the NBA from the EuroLeague, and his contributions proved instrumental in the Celtics’ effort to secure a come-from-behind victory in their regular-season finale. In the game, the 29-year-old rookie topped his previous NBA career high of 13 points, which he set on Jan. 14 in a 109-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Wanamaker was one of the driving forces behind the Celtics’ comeback, particularly in the team’s final push to take the lead and close out the game. During the fourth quarter, the former Panther came up with four assists in less than four minutes. That included a pass that set up Semi Ojeleye for the two-point shot that put Boston up 98-97 as well as the subsequent dish to R.J. Hunter for a three-pointer that would extend their lead to 101-97.

The Celtics would maintain a lead for the rest of the game, putting the finishing touches on a 49-33 record that will see them head to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. And for his role in the victory, Wanamaker was honored with a Tommy Award by Celtics great and NBC Sports Boston color commentator Tom Heinsohn. The award is given based on production and hustle.

While Tuesday night was one to remember for Wanamaker, it was unfortunately one of the few occasions in which he has been given an opportunity to demonstrate what he can do at the game’s highest level since returning to the United States from Turkey. Wanamaker played in just 36 of the Celtics’ 82 games this season, and the win over the Wizards was just the fourth time he logged 20 or more minutes.

Back in Istanbul, Wanamaker was one of the stars of a Fenerbahce team that reached the EuroLeague Finals in 2018. That season, he averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals over 24.0 minutes per game in 69 contests. He also shot 45.6 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from distance and was renowned for his defensive prowess.

Now a member of a fairly deep Celtics team, Wanamaker has been waiting on an opportunity to make his mark on the storied franchise. And with Boston bound for the postseason, it appears he will continue to contribute sparingly from the bench. However, given his big-game experience in Europe and what he showed Celtics head coach Brad Stevens on Tuesday, it’s possible he could be called upon to contribute in the playoffs.