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Doc Rivers sees Kevin Garnett in the ‘half’ Kendrick Perkins

01.17.12 at 9:36 am ET
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When he was in Boston, Kendrick Perkins was known as the lumbering shot blocking man in the middle with a scowl.

When his former coach Doc Rivers looked out on the court Monday night, he saw a much different Perk.

“He’s half Perk but he’s quicker,” Rivers said of Perkins, who lost 30 pounds in the offseason. “He had a move today — even though he traveled — where he caught it, took two dribbles, went quick and gathered himself.”

This is the man that Celtics GM and team president Danny Ainge traded to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green at the trade deadline last February.

Perkins has matured — and that was clear for Rivers to see on Monday. Yes, he still got in foul trouble, limiting him to seven points and five rebounds in 28 minutes. But what was very clear — and audible — to Rivers from the Celtics sideline is what he’s done in terms of making the Thunder a tough team, a team battle-tested and ready to make a run at a title.

“You can see, he’s put work in his game,” Rivers said. “He has every year I’ve known him. His influence on that team is dramatic to me. You can see it, you can feel it. You can see it with the bigs, with [Serge Ibaka], they’re all defensive players now. Perk has completely changed the culture of that team, you can just see it on the floor. That’s terrific for him.”

Where did he get this from?

Rivers said playing next to Kevin Garnett for three-plus seasons didn’t hurt. Rivers said Perkins took defensive communication and leadership cues right out of KG’s playbook.

“It’s very similar, and he used Kevin’s playbook,” Rivers said. “He did it by example. They say he’s hard on guys if they miss a rotation. There’s one on the floor today. He was screaming at [Kevin Durant], but Durant took it, though. Good for Perk, he deserves it.”

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