Rasheed Wallace. The very mention of his name is usually followed by an expletive filled tirade from any Celtics fan, including our very own Josh Gans. Rasheed showed up to training camp woefully out of shape and the long NBA season has done nothing for his conditioning. He looks like a giant Pillsbury Dough Boy on the court. Rasheed has a knack for throwing up awful threes, soft fouls that lead to three-point opportunities, sloppy help defense, an allergy to going into the post, and so on and so forth. He is the reason that season ticket prices went up and Celtics fans are stuck with him for the next two seasons, whether we like it or not.
Rasheed Wallace Shows Up...Finally
Then Game Two against the Cavs happened. Maybe Rasheed decided that it's time to start earning that $19 million dollar contract. Maybe he decided that he was bored playing awful basketball and that maybe he would try. Call me crazy but maybe Rasheed thought to himself "It's the playoffs, it's time to put up or shut up." I don't know but for the first time all season Rasheed decided to step up and be the spark off the bench that the Celtics desperately needed, scoring 17 points and missing only one field goal attempt. He even decided to play defense! He was even joking around with Doc Rivers, faking a tantrum on the way back to the bench after he missed a three pointer.
Whatever the case, it took Doc long enough to call out Rasheed, threatening to pull his minutes off of the bench. Should Doc have done it earlier in the season? Well of course, it took him long enough! But it doesn't matter as long as Rasheed can continue to play like this during the most important point of the season. Even Kendrick Perkins, who last lost playing time to Rasheed during the season and has been noticeably moody all season, had nice things to say. He said "He was doing a lot of great things for us tonight. That's what we need out of Rasheed every night."
So as much as it kills me to write nice things about Rasheed, I feel that the man deserves praise for contributing in a great Game Two win that gives the Celtics home court advantage at this point in the series. Rasheed can be the X Factor that swings the series in our favor if he can contribute night in and night out like he did in Game Two. If this keeps up, we could be seeing another early playoff exit for Lebron and the Cavs.
Then again, after Game Three, Rasheed could have another dismal game that we've grown accustomed to seeing and we'll go back to saying how much he sucks. And you know what, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.
Thanks to Lorianne DiSabato for the photo.