I'm not one to dwell on past performances. After Game 5, I talked about Game 6. So now, let's look ahead to Game 7 and how the Celtics face the possibility of playing without center and defensive anchor Kendrick Perkins. Although Perk is averaging less than 6 points and rebounds per game, his presence is not replaceable. The interior pressure he puts on Gasol and Bynum makes them take shots from farther away and usually falling away from the basket. Unlike most big men in today's NBA, this Boston center still knows how to "body up" on a post player.
The Lakers out-rebounded the Celts 52-39 in Game 6, but the differential was much worse before Doc waved the red flag and sent in the reserves. Although Boston was getting beaten on the boards before Perk went down, his absence, both mentally and physically, absolutely crippled the Celtics rebounding effort. So now, with his status up in the air, how do the Celtics prepare to play without him? What can they do differently to avoid a repeat of last night's embarrassment?
Well, I think it starts with who Doc picks to replace Perk in the starting five. The two choices are pretty clear. He can either go with Rasheed Wallace or Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Sheed, combined with KG, would match up well defensively with L.A.'s size and strength, but Wallace would really have to step up his hustle and energy. I can only imagine how frustrated he must be with some of the fouls the idiot officials have called on him. Unfortunately for Sheed and the rest of the Celtics, he has a reputation as a complainer. He does, however, stretch the floor on offense and provides a post presence, something Boston did not have in Game 6. I don't think Sheed would win or lose the game for Boston. If Doc starts Sheed and the rest of the team plays well at both ends of the court, they can win.
Big Baby on the other hand, provides energy and hustle. His height disadvantage has hurt him in the post, but he's learning to use his low center of gravity to keep offensive players away from the basket. Over the course of the series, he's done that well against Gasol. Davis does love the spotlight. He's had tastes of glory with his buzzer beater against the Magic last year and his performance in Game 5 of this series. However, he put up a goose egg in the scoring column last night. He has the ability to make a big impact on Game 7 regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench.
Personally, I think Doc goes with Sheed, but Davis may very well play more minutes off the bench between Sheed's conditioning and probable foul trouble. Just like in the Game 5 win, it's going to take a team effort to clear the boards Thursday night if the C's want to become champions again. KG, Rondo, and Pierce will all have to play big minutes and I'd like to see Doc shorten up the rotation. Barring serious foul trouble, Shelden Williams need to stay on the bench, as do 'Quis and Finley. I would rather see Sheed or Baby foul out in the fourth than deal with Shelden's disastrous play for select minutes.
All in all, it's going to be tough. My personal vibe is Perk won't be able to play. There have been mixed reports, but none of them have been overly hopeful. It's almost fitting that Boston would have to win without Perk. They've fought adversity throughout this historic playoff run. Thursday night, we'll see if they can do it one more time.
Stephen Bailey designed Beantown Banter, writes the majority of the pieces for the site, and controls the social networking among other things. Bailey is currently a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in Sport Management. He is a diehard Celtics and Red Sox fan, but also actively follows the Bruins and Patriots. Additionally, he serves as a contributing writer at Celtics Life. Earlier in 2010, Bailey interned in the Sports Department of the New Haven Register, interviewed multiple athletes, including ex-Celtic Ryan Gomes, and worked as part of a team to get the section done every weeknight. He covers both Swimming & Diving and Women's Tennis for The Daily Orange, SU's school paper. In his free time, Bailey enjoys playing pickup basketball, beating his floormates in NBA 2K11, and sporcling for hours on end. Although he is unsure exactly what he wants to do for a career, it has always been his dream to cover the Celts and Sox.