Rasheed Wallace Is Boston Celtics' Big Ticket to Success in 2010

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Rasheed Wallace Is Boston Celtics' Big Ticket to Success in 2010
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It's an unbelievable thought that it is now January 2010. It seems like yesterday we were watching the Celtics struggle through the 2009 NBA playoffs, depleted of bench options.

The 2009 Celtics were forced, through injuries, to display a toughness not seen from a defending NBA champion in some time. A team decimated by injuries to key players were thrust into the shallows of the early rounds of the playoffs. Facing off first against the Chicago Bulls in round one, the two teams delighted us to a seven-game extravaganza that was certainly one of the most entertaining (first round) series in NBA history.

As the '09 Celtics season came to a screeching halt in a Game Seven loss to the Orlando Magic in the semifinals, it was apparent that the team was lacking depth on the front line and versatility off the bench. The Mikki Moore and Starbury experiments had failed and the rotations were left to just seven players.

Despite the lack of production from Moore and Marbury, Rajon Rondo developed into a star point guard and undeniable team leader. Glen Davis also showed he is a certified role player, not to be underestimated.

The loss of James Posey, in 2008, left C's fans and beat writers still contemplating what could have been if Posey's versatility could have been applied to the over-worked small forward and shooting guard positions. I won't even broach the topic of "what-if's" had KG not gone down in 2009—that's a whole separate article that's been written too many times.

Danny Ainge flirted with Rasheed Wallace long enough, and the big three added some icing on the cake as 'Sheed signed a contract with the Celtics and Marquis Daniels soon followed.

The Celtics started the season suddenly looking deep, versatile, and intelligent off the bench. The 2009-10 season began as the C's broke out of the gate steaming to four consecutive, blow-out, victories.

Echoing Kevin Garnett's promise of two consecutive titles after off-season knee surgery, Rasheed Wallace predicted a 72 win season. I don't know about you, but I kind of winced when I heard 'Sheed's proclamation. I didn't want to hear bragging bravado nor did I feel much confidence in coming even close to 72 victories. After 32 games, the Celtics are 24-8 and 72 wins sounds even sillier now than it did in October.

After the burst out of the Boston Celtics in the first two week's of the season, they hit a road block as the honeymoon quickly wore off. Four losses in seven games exposed Boston's weaknesses. Age, lack of chemistry, lackadaisical approach to inferior teammates, and carelessness converted into the slowest start to a season since Allen and Garnett came to town.

A team that was being compared (talent-wise) to the '86 Celtics, and was easily standing next to the 2008 team, went from a proclaimed 72-win team by its new sixth man to a team looking to get the season over with and enter the playoffs healthy.

The team's roller-coaster ride of streaky highs and inexcusable lows landed us in 2010 with eight losses and injuries to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Marquis Daniels. I continue to be of the thinking that 50-55 wins and good health are more important than 60-plus wins and a team hobbling on its home-court, out of gas in April.

Key injuries left Doc Rivers with a starting lineup of Tony Allen, Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens, Kendrick Perkins, and Rasheed Wallace for the first game of 2010. The Celtics beat the Raptors, showing they have the determination, grit, and intelligence to win regardless of who's in the lineup. I guess we can consider this an encouraging start to a year that was supposed to be the Celtics' return to the NBA throne.

I wrote an article for North Station Sports during the offseason declaring our bench able to compete with most teams' starting lineups. I partially wrote the piece to annoy Lakers and Cavs fans, and based upon the death threats I received on Bleacher Report, I'd say it worked.

However, I never write a story just to get a rise out of opposing team's fans if I don't believe in what I am typing. I did believe the C's' bench can compete with most teams' starting lineups, but I did not expect Marquis to be out of the equation and Rasheed showing up opening night looking more like Artis Gilmore in 1987 than a guy who was an all-star just two seasons earlier.

Though Rasheed has shown inconsistent glimmers of his former self—he primarily has been out of shape, lackadaisical, nonchalant, and a T-machine, and not surprisingly, leads the league.

In Sunday's edition of the Celtics Late Night Show , we discussed with John from Red's Army that Rasheed seemed to be standing behind KG and company. John pointed out that 'Sheed seemed to be coasting in a manner seen by the Pistons of the mid '00s.

John's comments enlightened me to the obvious fact that Wallace's "Piston-like" attitude seemed to be infecting the entire team. John was not implying the entire team was playing like the Pistons of the mid '00s, but I am starting to see an ugly resemblance to that team's lack of regular season fire.

Wallace was picked up by the C's for the obvious assets he supplies the team. 'Sheed, most importantly, gives Doc Rivers a quality similar to Kevin Garnett's, and with the Big Ticket not returning until mid-January, the Celtics need Rasheed to display those qualities now. The suddenly out-spoken Kendrick Perkins talked to the media about Wallace and Garnett yesterday.

From the Boston Globe:

“I went to him after the Phoenix game and I told him we need him to be a leader right now,’’ said center Kendrick Perkins. Obviously, he could do it. He showed it last game [against Toronto], we just need him to do it every game. Just go out there and be the leader, talking, getting guys out of control when things are going bad for us and things like that. They’re two different players,’’ Perkins said. “Rasheed’s more physical. Kevin’s physical . . . [but he] kind of outsmarts you a little bit. ’Sheed gets physical with you throughout the play. Ticket’s thing is he plays with a lot more energy. He brings intensity. I mean Rasheed does but that’s  one of Ticket’s strong points.’’

Perkins' key word was "now." The Celtics cannot afford to have...READ MORE

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