WALTHAM –Kendrick Perkins  knows the mission before him as the Celtics  get ready to take on the Orlando Magic  in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight at TD Banknorth Garden .
Make life tough on NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard . And don’t get caught up in the stat sheet if Howard is putting up video game numbers, especially in the rebounding column.
“He has to work for it, 20 and 20,” Perkins said at this morning’s shootaround at the team’s practice facility. “You know one thing, he’s going to grab every (rebound). He’s the only guy that rebounds on their team. So, he’s going to grab all the defensive rebounds. He may grab 15 to 17 defensive rebounds so you can’t get caught up in that. If you can make 20 points on 20 attempts, that’s pretty good.”
It’s not unusual for Orlando’s forwards Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu  to play away from the basket, accounting for most of Howard’s gaudy rebounding numbers.
“With our team, we’re taught everybody gang rebound,” Perkins said. “With their team, they’re like move out of the way, Dwight is going to get all the rebounds. But you can’t play for stats, you’ve got to play to win.”
With the team getting a day off on Sunday to rest, Perkins said he is not losing any sleep over defending Howard in this round.
“I just taking on the challenge,” Perkins said. “It’s not like I’m stressing about it or can’t sleep or anything like that. It is what it is and I’ve just got to go out and do what I’ve got to do and may the chips fall where they may.”
Perkins was encouraged by what he saw from the Celtics bench in Game 7 of their series against the Bulls on Saturday night. Eddie House  drained all four three-pointers he attempted and scored 16 while Brian Scalabrine  chipped in with two key threes in the first half when Perkins got into early foul trouble.
“I feel like our bench is going to help us more this series,” Perkins said. “I think the last game we just played helped their confidence a lot so I think we’ll be pretty good.”