So here’s one.
Rasheed Wallace is in his 14th consecutive playoff run.
He’s made the playoffs every single year after his rookie season. That’s incredible. For a guy routinely criticized for not wanting it badly enough, to make the playoffs every single year is kind of a big deal. But what he did in the Eastern Semifinals was no less than a coup for every lazy player who says they can turn it on in the playoffs. Sheed was, to be honest, really good. Not great. Not phenomenal. Just really good. Worked the block. Made threes. Rebounded. And in a championship drive, it’s players that can put that kind of production in in limited minutes that can make the difference.
The Celtics are about to face a team with a series of players that give them fits. Orlando’s forwards are faster, have better range, and play inside of a system that accentuates their unique abilities without sacrificing defense or rebounding. Which is why Sheed’s success is so important.
The thing that’s more important is Sheed’s consistency.
He doesn’t have to bring incredible play every game. He doesn’t have to be a difference maker. But what he cannot do is what he has done the entire regular season and continued to do in the playoffs right up until Game 4 against Cleveland: vanish. He vanished, being ineffective at both ends of the floor.
Boston needs every body, at 100%, primed and ready to fire. Doc Rivers can’t have a situation where he puts Sheed in and doesn’t know what he’s going to get. The Russian Roulette that exists with Sheed has to become a consistent effort he can count on.
Sheed’s shown us that when give the chance, he’ll make good on his promises of flipping the switch. He’d better, because so far Orlando’s been “on” for half a season.
The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?
Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:
If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.
The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.
It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.
Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?
The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.
There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.
Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.
What next for Boston?
In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.
Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.
What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.
At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.
And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.