The Celtics got the job done in Game 2. They earned the 1-1 split in L.A., and now come back to the Garden with home court advantage. This, however, came in spite of a worrisome trend for Celtics fans—the Laker dominance inside, and the coinciding disappearance of Kevin Garnett.
Following two off-days in which he was provided some bulletin board material from Pau Gasol, KG turned in an even worse performance than he had in game one (6 pts on 2-5 from the field, 4 rebs). Whether it is an issue of health, sudden catching up to his age, or a mental block, Garnett has been rendered a non-factor in these finals.
Couple this ineffectiveness with Kendrick Perkins’ traditional foul trouble (and imminent seventh technical and suspension), Glen Davis’s small frame inside (although he has been contributing thus far), and Sheldon Williams’ apparent narcolepsy, the Celtics may need record-setting performances from the likes of Allen, Pierce, and Rondo to hoist Banner 18. Gasol and Bynum own the paint, and if this does not change in the coming games, there will be a Laker repeat.
There is, however, one man who can have a say in this. Rasheed Wallace has been lost in the Celtics’ surprising run to the finals. Following a regular season of career lows in scoring and rebounding in which his signing was deemed a failure, Sheed has stepped it up on several occasions in the playoffs, and the Celtics are going to need him in these next few games.
He has shown that he can play physical underneath, and that presence is needed with Gasol and Bynum crashing the boards for offensive rebounds left and right. On offense, it is not imperative for Wallace to bury some from behind the arc, but that threat can stretch the floor and open up the offense.
At this point in the series, Kevin Garnett can only contribute as much as his jump shot, and it is a sad thing to witness. If this sharp and sudden decline persists, Doc Rivers must act and increase the minutes of Wallace.
Barring three more record-setting performances by Allen and triple-doubles by Rondo in the same game, the Celtics must establish dominance underneath the basket if they are to win this series, and the deciding factor in that struggle will be Wallace. Ball don’t lie, Boston.