’Sheed must save season for C’s
With one game remaining to determine this year’s NBA champs, the Boston Celtics must rely on one man to perform above reasonable expectations in order to hoist their 18th banner: Rasheed Wallace.
It’s difficult to explain what that feels like for Celtics fans. He’s a bum; he’s lazy; he literally didn’t try during the regular season; he’s averaging about six points and three rebounds during the playoffs in just 16 minutes per game. He’s shooting 41 percent from the field during that span, and against the Lakers his numbers are even worse: four points, four rebounds, 33 percent shooting from the field, 24 percent from three, and he’s two of two from the free throw line.
Yet, with the season on the line, Kendrick Perkins out with an unfortunate knee injury, Shelden Williams playing so poorly that he literally can’t be counted on for two seconds of errorless burn, and Brian Scalabrine set to wear a uniform for one of just a handful of times since the end of the regular season, ’Sheed must stand tall. Despite all of his evident shortcomings, he has the talent. But does he have the will? Or, considering his health and general lack of physical fitness, the health?
"Regardless of what Rasheed did for us numbers-wise, we felt like we needed his ability,’’ C’s captain Paul Pierce told the Boston Globe earlier this month. "His size, his defense, his experience, those are things we wanted from Rasheed. We didn’t ask Rasheed to come in here and start, to average a certain number of points. We needed his presence."
Well, now he’s being asked to do just that. Start, stay out of foul trouble, rotate on defense, contain the league’s best offensive big man, knock down open shots, and maintain his composure throughout the game, refs be damned. Boston needs at least 30 quality minutes from the big man or the dream dies in Los Angeles. Wallace knows this.
"It doesn’t matter what I do in the regular season," Wallace has repeatedly said throughout the season. "I’ll be judged on what I do in the playoffs."
Well, judgment time has come. A big performance on Thursday night will earn Wallace a lifetime free pass in Boston. A loss and a no-show might earn him the boot. The Celtics have CTC. Thursday night, ’Sheed must earn his keep.