Wallace let his play do the talking
CLEVELAND — Glen Davis referred to him by his full name, almost as if he were a different person.
“Rasheed Wallace came.’’
After watching Wallace miss 4 of 5 shots in the Eastern Conference semifinal opener against Cleveland and accumulating the team’s lowest plus-minus (-20) in the postseason, the Celtics were calling on their most prominent offseason addition.
His answer was immediate.
Wallace knocked down his first five shots last night, and when the ball went long off the back iron after he pulled his sixth, he kicked at the hardwood, hopping mad as he went back the other way. He was expecting perfection, even if the outside world had written him off as a bust.
Wallace finished with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, going 3 of 4 from the 3-point line, a shot that abandoned him most of a the regular season. He said nothing after the game, letting the numbers — and his teammates — talk for him.
“That was the difference in the game,’’ Davis said. “Rasheed Wallace came and he did some huge things for us tonight and each night it’s going to be somebody different.’’
Wallace said time and again he’d be ready when the playoffs started.
He had yet to be the player the Celtics expected when they signed him in the offseason, but last night, with the team needing all hands on deck to fight off the Cavaliers, the Wallace former coaches and teammates told stories about finally showed up.
“Coach called upon him to step up and he did that,’’ said Paul Pierce. “That is the reason we brought him in. He can be the X-factor in these types of series. He has championship experience and he is a go-to guy in the post for that second unit. We’re going to need that from him every night and for all the guys who come off the bench.’’
The Cavaliers took their first home loss with LeBron James in the lineup since Feb. 18.
“Tonight it was real simple,’’ Brown said. “For 48 minutes, we did not play with a sense of urgency. We tried the last few minutes of the game. They kicked our behind from the beginning. They got every 50/50 ball, they converted every offensive rebound into points, and we did not fight back until late.
“We have to decide if we are going to take the fight to them and take these games. Nothing is going to be given to us at all. Ain’t a thing going to be given to us at all in this series. We have got to come out and fight better than we did tonight.’’
“We were taking the whole thing in,’’ Davis said. “It’s a great privilege for LeBron, but you’ve still got to go out there and play the game no matter if you’re the MVP or not. We kind of took it a little personal and we just played the way we were supposed to play.’’
After looking at a tape, Brown asked the league for clarification on that call, among others.
“We turned it in to the league; we haven’t gotten a response yet,’’ Brown said. “But I didn’t think that was a foul. [O’Neal] jumped straight up in the air. He blocked the shot, and Rondo’s shot was a 1-foot floater. So Rondo’s 1-foot floater carried him into Shaq.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll see the response that I get from them. But it’s a physical game, and anybody that runs into Shaq is going to get knocked down. They’re not going to win that battle. But just like when we go to the hole, we expect to be challenged and sometimes get hit. I think it’s all a part of the game.’’
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked, “I thought it was close to an assassination.’’ Then he said, “That’s just the silly game coaches play so when [Shaq] does it, they don’t call it a flagrant.’’