3.07.2008

1986 Cs go 15-3 with Wedman Starting for Injured McHale

The guy wasn't too bad, you know. With Scott Wedman as a starter for 18 of the past 19 games, the Celtics have gone 15-3. It's not like he spread bad karma, or anything.

But Kevin McHale is now ready to resume more responsibility, and so barring any unforeseen developments between this morning and game time tonight (8:30, Channel 56), he will become the starter. Wedman will once again be a reserve.

Don't think McHale's being pushy, either. At no time in his Celtics career has he ever made a fuss about his geographic location at the start of a game. "I don't care much about starting or not starting," he insists. "It's never been a priority. Playing or not playing -- that's different. To me, it's strictly a coach's decision. Whatever he thinks will be the best for the team."

It's clear that returning McHale to the lineup is exactly what K.C. Jones thinks will be best for the team, because when asked whether he seriously considered, for even one second, maintaining the status quo now that McHale appears healthy, Jones barked "No!"

Wedman's feelings aren't at issue here. If they were, he would still be starting. "I like it (starting)," he said. "I like it a lot. I think starting has helped my confidence somewhat, and I just hope I'll keep doing as well off the bench."

Not that Wedman, a solid team player, disputes the command decision. "Kevin has earned it," Wedman says. "Since he's come back, he's been great."

No argument there. Since his seven-minute, scoreless, five-turnover ice- breaking opener on Tuesday in New York ("I just wanted to see if I could run up and down the floor, but I didn't expect to be that bad"), McHale has resumed his pre-injury level of play. He has shot 6 for 9, 10 for 11 and 10 for 10 in the past three games. He scored 26 points in 30 minutes against the LA Clippers on Friday night and 25 points in 23 minutes on Sunday against Detroit.

Coach Jones says that Wedman can still expect to see a lot of minutes, since he doesn't want to overwork either of his starting forwards. "Kevin got 23 minutes against Detroit and Larry was up around 40 (actually 41). I'd like to keep Larry's minutes down, so there are plenty of minutes available for Scotty."

Wedman averaged 12 points a game as a starter, with a high of 24 on Jan. 31 against Washington. His outside shooting made life comfortable for Robert Parish inside, and he did his share on the boards. He did what could only be described as a professional job. The question now is whether he can pro-rate his performance according to his new level of minutes played. Prior to becoming a starter he had only reached double figures nine times. Then again, prior to becoming a starter, the most minutes he had played was 28 on Opening Night, when Bird was having a long night.

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