Thursday May 27th, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Glen "Big Baby" Davis didn't want to answer questions Wednesday night. The Boston forward offered only one comment as he stormed toward the door of the Celtics' locker room.

"I ain't speaking," Davis said. "I'm all right. I'll be back next game. ... That's all you need to print."

Unfortunately for Davis, whether he faces the Magic on Friday in Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals won't be his choice. Because he sustained a concussion courtesy of an errant Dwight Howard elbow in the third quarter of Boston's 113-92 Game 5 loss, doctors won't clear Davis to play unless he passes a battery of tests to ensure that another shot to the head won't cause permanent damage.

The Celtics' other big men are in no better shape. Barring a reprieve from the NBA office, starting center Kendrick Perkins will miss Game 6 after compiling seven technical fouls in the playoffs. Meanwhile, reserve Rasheed Wallace injured his back on a fourth-quarter play Wednesday.

In case you're keeping score, that's all three players the Celtics have used to defend Orlando star Dwight Howard, who scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday. Asked to envision a game six with no Perkins, no Davis and a banged-up Wallace, Celtics coach Doc Rivers shuddered. "It's not a pleasant thought," said Rivers, who also must deal with a concussion sustained Wednesday by reserve forward Marquis Daniels.

Wednesday was a nightmare for Boston's post players, and the ramifications could be colossal as the Magic attempt to become the first NBA team to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven series. Forward Paul Pierce said the Celtics have to treat Friday the same way they treated Game 6 of their semifinal series against Cleveland: as a must-win as critical as any Game 7. Because if the series returns to Orlando, the Magic will have all the momentum. "Obviously," Pierce said, "we don't want to come back here."

The Celtics' big-man trouble began with 2:15 remaining in the first half when Perkins and Orlando's Marcin Gortat were both whistled for technicals. "Perk was bending down, picking the ball up and got a technical for being around," Rivers said. "I don't know how he got that tech."

With 36.1 seconds remaining in the half, referee Eddie Rush rang up Perkins a second time for what appeared to be some minor post-play grousing. "It was awful quick," Rivers said. "But they called it. I did think Eddie Rush realized once he called it that he couldn't rescind the tech because he forgot they had given him the other one." Fearing a fine, Rivers declined to elaborate on whether Perkins' reputation makes him a magnet for technicals. "Perk plays hard," Rivers said. "He looks mean. He's a great guy. I'll leave it at that."

Wallace, the NBA's reigning lord and master of the technical foul, declined Wednesday night to offer his take on the calls against Perkins. "Ya'll can go ahead and get away from me," Wallace said. "I ain't saying [expletive]. I'll get fined."

With Perkins in the locker room and Wallace in foul trouble, the Celtics had to rely on Davis to check Howard. The 6-foot-9, 289-pound Davis had to be careful to stay out of foul trouble himself, so he couldn't play Howard as aggressively as he would have liked.

With 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Davis got tangled with teammate Nate Robinson as they tried to contest a Howard shot. As Howard descended, his left elbow struck Davis in the face, and Davis crumpled to the floor. Daniels grabbed the rebound, and as the Celtics pushed the ball into the frontcourt, Davis sprawled on the ground on the baseline beneath the Boston basket. When he saw Rivers waving for him to get up and run to the offensive end, Davis rose, stumbled, then rose again. As he careened across midcourt, the other players stopped cold. Referee Joe Crawford stepped in front of Davis, wrapped his arms around him and helped him sit on the floor. Davis sat on the court for several minutes before walking off under his own power.

"I know he blacked out on the floor," Rivers said of Davis. "I was just trying to get him back down on offense at the time. And Marquis, same thing. He blacked out as well. Lots of elbows." Howard said he didn't mean to hit Davis with his elbow. "I just hope that Big Baby's all right," Howard said. "You never want to see a player go down. I just hope he's OK."

Despite Davis' prediction, whether he plays will be determined by his doctors. Rivers tried to keep the mood light after the loss, but his concern was obvious. "I don't know what kind of test they're going to do with Baby because he's a little delirious half the time anyway, so I don't know how he's going to pass a test," Rivers said. "I'm worried about that."

The Celtics have reason to worry. If Perkins is suspended and Davis can't play, a banged-up Wallace would have to start. He would be spelled by little-used Shelden Williams and possibly Brian Scalabrine, who was inactive Wednesday. That certainly wasn't a lineup the Celtics imagined using when they left Orlando last week up 2-0. Then, Pierce's postgame reference to a broom on Twitter seemed entirely appropriate. Now, they will return to Boston battered and potentially very shorthanded.

Rivers will remind his players that even though their circumstances seem bleak, they still need to win just one game to reach the NBA finals for the second time in three seasons. Friday, the pressure remains squarely on the Magic in spite of the Celtics' woes. But should the Magic should win Friday, those roles will reverse. Rivers knows that, too. "We need to win one game," Rivers said. "Let's hope it's the next one."

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.