I know it’s tough to earn $5.85 million in one night. Hell, I would say it’s damn near impossible. But Rasheed Wallace gave it his very best effort last night, hitting big shots and carrying the Celtics for an extremely important portion of the first half. (By the way, if you didn’t watch the game I bet you think I’m lying.)
Okay, you say, but Rasheed hitting shots for one night doesn’t erase a season’s worth of damage. 17 points, on one night, can’t possibly rid us of the filth that was the first 85 games he played this season, does it? Does it?
Maybe not, but the man came pretty damn close. Those buckets weren’t just 17 points; they were game-changing, and potentially series-changing, points. Let me set the scene:
- Rasheed subs in with 3:20 left in the first quarter, along with Tony Allen. Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen take a walk to the bench. Before Rasheed and TA play even a second, Lebron James hits a free throw to make the game 16-15 Celtics.
- Ten seconds after Rasheed checks in, Paul Pierce is whistled for an offensive foul, his second. With 3:10 remaining in the first quarter the Celtics are clinging to a one-point lead, one of their stars is in foul trouble, and Glen Davis and Michal Finley just subbed in for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. For those of you keeping score at home, the Celtics’ lineup now consists of Rajon Rondo and the four bums — TA, Finley, Davis and Wallace. I write in my notes, “16-15. Uh-oh. Check out that lineup. Bad news.”
- Twelve seconds after Pierce’s charging foul, Anderson Varejao scores on a pass from Lebron and the Cavs take an 17-16 lead. In my head, I see a chance at Game Two victory evaporating in front of my very eyes.
- Aha! Rasheed hits a short jumper from the right baseline to take the lead back for the Celtic. It’s only a tiny jumper and, while I am both happy and surprised that Rasheed hit it, in no way did I foresee it being the start of something special.
- Fast forward a couple plays. The Cavs haven’t scored again. Rasheed catches a jumper at the top of the arc and drills it home. Bam! Five points for Sheed, a 4-point lead for Boston. Shock, utter shock, for me.
- Fast forward again. The Celtics ended the first quarter trading baskets with Cleveland, and the score became 26-22. The bum lineup is still in the game for Boston. I am still worried they may blow the game before Boston has a chance to win it. With Rasheed Wallace in the game (huh?), I shouldn’t fear.
- The Celtics start the second quarter with a 9-0 run and — obviously! Why wouldn’t he be?? — Sheed is the catalyst. He hits one three-pointer and then makes a nice, agile foray to the hoop that he finishes with a right-handed half-hook. The Celtics are now ahead, 35-22. The bum squad is still in the game, but the crisis of playing without the Big Three has been entirely averted. Rasheed Wallace has carried the Celtics on his lazy, underachieving back for about 7 minutes with 10 enormous points. Game saved, season saved, mission accomplished.
As you see, this wasn’t just your average 13 first-half points. These were pressure-filled, season-on-the-line, Big-Three-on-the-bench points. Stretches like these are exactly what the Celtics foresaw when they signed Sheed (for three years — doh) prior to this season. Of course they didn’t expect those aforementioned stretches would come once a year, but still — the Celtics needed those 13 points. They needed every one of them.
For once, Sheed came through. Let’s just hope he doesn’t throw a stinker next time out…
Like we’re all expecting.