Back in action tomorrow night? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Shelden Williams has played 18 total minutes through six games of the 2010 NBA Finals, and they've been sort of...um...disastrous.
So far, Williams's play has been defined by the fumbled passes, the failed attempts at rebounds, and a few questionable basketball decisions. Questions about the quality of his hands lingered all season, and so far in these Finals, those questions are being answered in the worst possible way. In particular, his brief stints have been highlighted by and will be remembered for two specific plays that people probably can't help but harp on.
First, there was the horrific inbounds pass at the end of the first half in Game 2 that was picked off by Kobe Bryant and turned into a three-pointer that cut a nine-point deficit down to just six. It was a horrible way to end what was an otherwise promising half for the Celtics, defined by Ray Allen's three-point barrage.
And then, last night, there was the blown dunk with 3:48 remaining in the first half. Cue the Candace Parker jokes.
In the larger scheme of things, those were just two plays, and every single player puts in the occasional bad play (see Rajon Rondo's seven turnovers in Game 5), but now, with Kendrick Perkins most likely out of the equation in Game 7, Williams could see more valuable minutes, because after all, every minute in Game 7 of the NBA Finals is valuable. And given the mistakes we've seen thus far, I feel the need to raise the question: Should Brian Scalabrine, who will most likely dress in place of Perkins, be awarded the minutes that might go to Williams?
The easy answer is yes, because, quite frankly, it would be incredibly difficult for Scal to be worse than Williams has been thus far. Both are listed at 6'9, so the Celtics wouldn't be giving up any height, and while both are below average rebounders, you'd have to figure Scal holds the edge in veteran savviness and would be less likely to commit unnecessary turnovers and make poor basketball decisions. We wouldn't necessarily be counting on Scal to produce, but instead, just not mess up. That's really all that it comes down to between these two players - who is more likely to not make a mistake and potentially cost the Celtics a bucket? Scal gets my vote, strictly based on what we've seen from Williams thus far. And if he scores a point or two, uses his fouls wisely, and happens to grab a few rebounds, all the better. Again, he can't be much worse than Williams has been. On top of that, in a series that has seen a lack of effort at times, playing an energy guy like Scal could actually go a long way, as the team that has made the most hustle plays has won every game.
Realistically, with one game remaining, Doc Rivers will most likely ride Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, and Kevin Garnett for as long as possible. You'd hope those three could keep the Celtics above water, but if foul trouble becomes an issue, then a fourth big will be needed, and the minutes will probably be given to either Williams or Scal.
As fresh as Scal has looked on the sideline in those designer clothes and white, suede shoes, it's time for him to turn in the dinner jacket for the warm up jacket and provide the necessary spot minutes that will in fact matter in Game 7 tomorrow night.