Rasheed Wallace Starting Game 7 for Celtics
The Boston coach confirmed before Thursday night's Game 7 of the NBA Finals that he will start Rasheed Wallace at center against the Lakers in place of injured Kendrick Perkins. Wallace, a 15-year veteran, is the only player on either team to have played in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals, taking the floor for Detroit in a 2005 loss at San Antonio.
"He's old,'' Rivers said of Wallace, 35. "I figured I'd play the oldest guys. I just think it's a good combination with Kevin because of the size, with (Lakers center Andrew) Bynum's size. I just think it's a better fit for us.''
The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Wallace will take over for the 6-10, 265-pound Perkins, who was lost in Game 6 with torn ligaments in his right knee. The other candidate to go against the 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum was 6-9, 289-pound Glen Davis, who will come off the bench in the big game at the Staples Center.
Rivers also likes how Wallace spaces the floor. He's primarily a perimeter player offensively.
"It also may give (Celtics point guard Rajon) Rondo a chance to get loose early because of the spacing on the floor,'' Rivers said.
Wallace could be a tough guard for Bynum when he goes outside. Bynum is playing with a torn meniscus in his right knee, and will be limited a bit after having the knee tighten up in Game 6.
"Matchups could be difficult,'' said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "Andrew, I think can play 10 minutes a half. That's kind of what our training staff has said unless he has a landing or a turn or something that ends up irritating that particular part of his knee that has some loose tissue, and then he gets, of course, lack of function in the muscles.''
Perkins went down with a torn medial and posterior collateral ligaments midway through the first quarter of Game 6. There's hope in the Celtics camp his loss can inspire the team.
"It is a little emotional losing Perk,'' Rivers said. "He's so important to our team. But he's still in the locker room. He just will not be in uniform. And I think our guys in some ways, they want to do it for him.''
The Celtics just hope Wallace looks better in this Finals Game 7 than he did in his last one. In Detroit's 81-74 loss June 23, 2005, he scored 11 points but grabbed just one rebound as the starting power forward.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson