Don’t blame the Kendrick Perkins trade for 2-0 hole and other off-day thoughts
|05.04.11 at 10:36 pm ET|
I’m going to steal from the great Paul Flannery and take his Three-Pointer gimmick for a spin. Stealing from Paul has turned into the norm, unfortunately, as the best Celtics beat writer in town had his computer and all his luggage stolen from the trunk of his car while having lunch (at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Factory — I know) before Game 2 in Miami on Tuesday. He’s OK, though (turns out it’s much easier to fly when all you have to carry is a CVS bag), and will be ready to go for Game 3.
But will the Celtics? Here’s three thoughts still kicking around after the first of three off-days ‘¦
(Oh, one more Flannery item before we get started. Bill Russell, as you have no doubt heard by now, will finally get a statue in his honor. Clearly the suggestion from President Obama that it was time for Boston to put up a Russell statue is the major reason why it happened, but it was Paul’s terrific column in Boston magazine last November that got the conversation started.)
1. Here’s why the Celtics are down 2-0 to the Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have a total of 147 points through two games. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have a total of 87. That’s it. Not the refs, not Kendrick Perkins, not James Jones outscoring the Celtics’ bench by himself in Game 1.
Nope, if the Celtics are going to find a way to get back to Miami at 2-2 — which is a must for any chance to win this series — Allen/Pierce/Garnett have to give you more than we saw in Game 1 and Game 2. Allen was very good in Game 1, a non-factor in Game 2. Pierce was terrible in Game 1, hurt and terrible again in Game 2. Garnett had a six-minute stretch in the third quarter of Game 2 where he made five consecutive field goals. Other than that he’s 6-of-24 through two games.
Listen, no one thought Pierce or Allen was going to outplay LeBron or Wade in this series, and Garnett was probably a slight edge over Bosh. But for these three guys — particularly Allen and Pierce — to have been so dominated in Miami is troubling at best. In the four regular season games between the two teams the Miami Big Three averaged a total of 56.6 points per game, the Boston Big Three 54.1. Now that’s deceiving — Wade only averaged 12.8 per game, not fair to expect that — but the Pierce/Allen/Garnett trio simply have to match their regular-season output or this series will be over in four or five games.
2. I know he scowls a lot, and looks exactly the way you want a center to look, and his team is still in the playoffs so you get to that blast of nostalgia when you watch him every couple of nights, but if Kendrick Perkins was on the Celtics this series would still be two-zip, Miami. Hard to digest for the “Heart and Soul of the Defense” flag-wavers, but it’s true. Kendrick Perkins is averaging 4.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the playoffs (by the way, if you do a Google search on “4.4 points per game” the first match is Alexander Johnson’s Wikipedia page. Johnson played 102 games in two NBA seasons, averaging his 4.4 points. He’s now with the Sioux City Skyforce of the D-League).
And the notion that Perkins would be a threat in the middle with his defense against Wade and James doesn’t have any statistical backing. Perkins is averaging 0.6 blocks per game in the playoffs, and Oklahoma City has allowed at least 100 points in both games of the Memphis series. And Perkins was on the court last year in the first round against the Heat when Wade averaged 33.2 points.
Jermaine O’Neal has been a better player than Perkins in this postseason (6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks) in seven fewer minutes per game. And let’s take it easy with the intangibles angle. Much is being made now about Perkins “teaching” the Thunder how to win. It’s easy to be an intangibles guy on a team with Westbrook and Durant — if Perkins has been traded to Minnesota who would never hear from him again. This isn’t fair to Perkins — who was a solid role player for team that needed him — but he isn’t a good enough player to swing a playoff series.
3. Even down 2-0, even with the injuries to Allen, Rondo, Pierce and Shaq, this will be the best chance this team will have to beat the Heat in a playoff series. Think about it: Miami is only going to get better. Wade and James are right in the middle of their primes and are two of the three or four best players in the world, and Bosh is a 17-9 guy also in his prime. Think those three are going to get worse or better after playing together for a full season? There isn’t much cap room for Miami, but the lure of winning plus the city itself should mean a decent pool of veterans to pick from each year. The Celtics are where the late 80′s Celtics were — enough talent to win but maybe too many miles on the tires. And once little brother gets past the bully — think Celtics over 76ers, Pistons over Celtics and Bulls over Pistons — it almost never reverts back.