Right now I’m watching Game 2 of the ’04 NBA Finals on ESPN Classic, and it’s been weird seeing Rasheed Wallace with some muscle definition.
After playing poorly and being comically out of shape since he came to Boston as a coveted free agent, ‘Sheed snuck under the radar almost all season before coming under fire recently from media and fans. Now you can add Boston coach Doc Rivers to the list.
“[Wallace] has to play better, bottom line,” Rivers was quoted by ESPNBoston going into tonight’s Game 2 against Cleveland. “He has to play better defense. The offense will come, but he has to be a better defender. And we can’t wait for him. He has to be a better defender for us.”
‘Sheed played 13 minutes in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, putting up two points and two rebounds. He’s been bad all season, but his biggest apologists always maintained the veteran would flip the switch and turn it on for the playoffs. So far, though, he’s been as bad as any player on the C’s. Funny how ‘Sheed was on every contender’s wish list last summer, but if the Celtics could trade Rasheed straight-up for the supposedly washed-up Ben Wallace right now, please believe they’d do it in a split-second.
According to Rivers, Shelden Williams might be on the verge of snatching Wallace’s spot in the rotation.
“[Williams] enters the discussion every day,” Rivers said in the ESPN article. “He’s definitely in the discussion, there’s no doubt about that.”
As always, nobody is doubting Rasheed’s talent. I’ve been trying to convince people ‘Sheed is overrated for a while, but at the same time, a couple weeks ago I put him on my list of the NBA’s 10 most skilled big men. He’s good, but everybody is tired of having to stick the When he wants to be caveat onto his resume.
And since he’s not injured, there’s no reason for ‘Sheed to be this bad. Missing shots is one thing, but even Wallace’s coach can see it’s an issue of effort. And for somebody who is supposed to be all about winning, it’s inexcusable to not give a full effort when a championship is on the line.