Thursday, February 24, 2005

Welcome Back 'Toine

By Anthony Peretore

Well, one of my favorite Celtics of all time is back in Boston. The trade on Thursday that brought Antoine Walker back to Beantown for Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart shocked much of the NBA world, including myself. Here’s a look at how this deal improves the Celtics.

A Beautiful Site Indeed

1) Boston gets a legitimate third scorer to help avoid their scoring droughts in the fourth quarter. The one thing I came away with after watching their collapse against the Lakers on Tuesday night was that besides Pierce and a very tired Ricky Davis, the C’s had no one else to go to in the clutch. Raef LaFrentz merely feeds off of his teammates and will only produce when one of them are double-teamed or if the Celtics’ transition game is working effectively. We all know ‘Toine isn’t scared to put the team on his back and allow his teammates to feed off his presence.

2) Paul Pierce’s play will undoubtedly improve. I attended the game in the summer of 2002 when Boston came from down 21 points in the 4th to rally and beat the Nets in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The main reason behind that comeback was that Walker gave Pierce an earful on the sidelines and challenged him to step up and win the game. AW has always been Pierce’s mentor and ever since he left, PP has not been able to provide the same leadership. With Walker back in town, Pierce gets a good buddy back as well as someone to tell him when and when not to hoist the rock.

3) Walker will provide much needed help on the glass. The Celtics have been atrocious this season in rebounding the ball and with an average of 9.4 RPG, Walker immediately assumes the team lead in that category.

4) The trade gives Doc Rivers options for once. Does Doc go big or small? Delonte West, Pierce, Walker, Raef, Mark Blount? Or, West, Tony Allen, Pierce, Walker, Raef? I say the latter may work the best since Blount has been more of a liability this season with his porous defense and even worse hands. Let ‘Toine post up and bring back the shimmy. PP is obviously more comfortable at the ‘3’ so leave him be. Allen has been improving each game since his promotion to the starting lineup, plus he’s probably the best defender Rivers has.

With a three-headed monster of Pierce, Walker and Davis, the Celts will be able to score with anyone in the league. The emotion on this team should be higher with ‘Toine’s presence and I see no reason why Boston cannot hang with Philadelphia and challenge them for the Atlantic crown. The only question we are left with is does Al Jefferson give Walker his #8 back? I say yes. It doesn’t look right on anyone but Antoine.

UPDATE: As reported by TNT's David Aldridge, there is a very good chance of Payton returning to the Celtics after he clears waivers sometime this weekend. Think about it, Ainge tells GP what the deal is, that they're getting Walker for the stretch run but that he has to be included to make it work financially. But, that Atlanta agreed to waive him immediately and once he clears waivers, boom, GP, Pierce and Walker. Danny Ainge isn't so dumb after all.


At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They rallied from a 26 points in 2002 against the Nets not 21.

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AL Jeff should keep #8.

Walker's making a new start, so give him a new number.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Meant to say in the 4th quarter, my bad. It's fixed. That's for the correction

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

number 8 belongs to Walker PERIOD,
Fat Al will have to find another number.


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