How ‘bout them Celtics, huh? Two weeks into the NBA season and the Celtics fan base have touched both sides of the spectrum – on one side, we've got a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at home which included a 22-point lead evaporation. On the other, we've got beating the Miami Heat in Miami on a three-point prayer from Jeff Green. With 74 games to go in the regular season, get ready for many loops, twists, turns, and drops on the roller coaster that will be the 2013-14 season.
In the front car of this coaster sits Gerald Wallace, whose confusion, frustration, and criticism of this Celtics squad was growing by leaps and bounds. That was, of course, before the current 4-game win streak. Twice in this early season Wallace was quick to call his teammates out for selfish play and for accepting losses too easily. Wallace latest comment, still burning with competitive fire, is a little different:
Wallace on leading the Atlantic: "I ain't worried about the division. Where we at in the Eastern Conference?"— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) November 12, 2013
Prior to Monday’s double digit win over Orlando, Wallace was very open with the press about the evolution of the new look Celtics:
"Guys are understanding what it takes to win as a team," he said amid a three-game win streak entering Monday night’s action. "I think the atmosphere of winning is becoming more and more in the locker room. We’re playing great ball. Guys are understanding what they need to do out on the court, individually and as a team, to win. It’s sharing the ball and helping each other defensively. I think we’re doing a great job of that now."
Where some people may look at this as Crash Wallace changing his tune, I see it more as Crash being happy his words were heard. In the season following the departure of two Celtics legends and three Hall of Famers, isn’t positive attitude and adoption of the culture of winning exactly what you want from your team – vets, rookies, and expirings alike?
Wallace was traded to the Celtics as a starter- a position he worked his entire life to get to and 13 seasons to keep. He began the 2013-14 season as a starter- playing along side Celtics building blocks Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Last week, amidst a 0-4 start, Wallace was moved out of the starting role and to the bench. A move he now embraces- and why shouldn’t he? His numbers speak for themselves as a true shining spot on the Celtics box score.
During the Celtics 120-105 win over Orlando, Wallace added 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The number that really jumped off the page was Wallace’s +/- rating; a team-best plus-20.
Coach Brad Stevens had this to add on Crash’s performance:
As Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted after the game, "Well, plus-20 is the only points I care about. That tells you what I think of him."
At 4-4 the Celtics, a team that was written as soon as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were shipped out of town, sit atop the Atlantic Division torn between #RigginforWiggins or making a run for the playoffs. While it is still way to early to make a judgment call on which way the green will go this season, let’s just say this – it is great to have actual basketball being played at the TD Garden.
Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor
Source: Chris Forsberg; ESPN