|Irish Coffee: Time to start Kendrick Perkins||02.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
It’s time for Kendrick Perkins to start.
Despite Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s claim on WEEI’s Big Show last week that he doesn’t think it matters who starts between Shaquille O’Neal and Perkins, the man who hasn’t lost a playoff series starting alongside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo has proven within five games that he deserves his spot back.
In Perkins’ first three games since returning from ACL surgery this past offseason, the Celtics were better off with either O’Neal or Semih Erden starting the first and third quarters. The numbers back it up. The C’s outscored their opponents by a total of three points to start each half before Perkins entered the game against the Cavaliers, Blazers and Suns. They were subsequently outscored by a total of 11 points with Perkins on the floor in those three games.
However, in the last two games — victories over the Lakers and Kings — the C’s have outscored their opponents by 22 from the moment Perkins entered the game in the first and third quarters to the time somebody substituted for him. That’s nine points better than they were in those two contests with O’Neal on the floor to start each half.
In his first five games this season, Perkins’ minutes have steadily risen to the mid-20s, culminating in a near double-double against the Kings. His performance Tuesday night marked the first game he vastly outperformed the C’s starting center.
Take a look at Perkins’ progression upon entering each half since his return compared to the Celtics’ starting center that night (each player’s plus/minus statistics are in parentheses):
|Irish Coffee: Why Celtics should fear Suns||01.28.11 at 12:33 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
I’ve got to hand it to colleague Jerry Spar for this one. It’s not surprising that the Celtics haven’t performed well on back-to-back nights when the second game is on the road, regardless of where the first game is played. What’s surprising is how putrid they’ve been in those situations this season.
And they’ve found themselves in that situation again Friday night, as the Celtics take on the Suns in Phoenix less than 24 hours and 1,300 miles removed from defeating the Trail Blazers 88-78 in Portland Thursday night.
Here’s how the Celtics have fared on the road during the second leg of back-to-back nights:
- Oct. 27 at Cleveland: 95-87 loss
- Nov. 8 at Dallas: 89-87 loss
- Dec. 9 at Philadelphia: 102-101 win
- Dec. 29 at Detroit: 104-92 loss
- Jan. 8 at Chicago: 90-79 loss
- Jan. 22 at Washington: 85-83 loss
Note: This doesn’t include the Nov. 22 game at Atlanta (a 99-76 win), because the game the day before (at Toronto) was played in the afternoon, not at night — allowing for extra travel/recovery time.
For those of you counting at home, that’s a 1-5 record in such instances, with the lone win a one-point decision over a 20-25 Sixers team that required a Kevin Garnett alley-oop with 1.4 seconds left.
The Celtics have five remaining games in these situations:
- Friday at Phoenix
- March 14 at New Jersey
- March 19 at New Orleans
- March 28 at Indiana
- April 1 at Atlanta
Note: This doesn’t include Feb. 7 at Charlotte or April 11 at Washington because the games the previous days are in the afternoon.
Spar took this breakdown further, noting that the C’s have had four occurrences when they’ve played the second game on back-to-back nights at home (the first game was on the road each time). They’re 4-0 in those instances.
The fact that the Celtics are four-point favorites tonight in Phoenix makes all this even more interesting.
THE CASE FOR KENDRICK PERKINS
I won’t bore you with in-depth statistical analysis like I did the other day, so I’ll let the New York Times do it for me. If you like this stuff, as I do, you’ll love this piece about why Kendrick Perkins makes a huge difference.
While Perkins’ 36-minute averages last season of 13.2 points and 9.8 rebounds are good, they don’t reflect the Celtics center’s impact, particularly defensively. Even the adjusted plus/minus statistics that author Michael Lewis unveiled to portray the relative value of a player like Shane Battier don’t help Perkins’ case.
Over his last two seasons of action, Perkins has posted a -5.76 adjusted plus/minus, one of the worst marks in the league. Adjusted plus/minus is far from infallible, but characteristically it favors guys who fall in line with Perkins’ reputation: tough-defending, solid-rebounding, low-usage role players on winning teams.
Furthermore, when you look at the production of his individual opponents, Perkins’ 2009-10 numbers aren’t so favorable, either, as they were for Battier.
In each of his last two seasons, Perkins has allowed opposing centers to produce at an above average rate, a curiosity for a well-regarded player whose primary contributions come on the defensive end.
Yet, when you examine his per-possession statistics, it sheds some light on Perkins’ value.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Perkins allowed just 0.77 points per possession in the post during the 2009-10 season, a truly impressive mark. Opponents on the low block shot just 38.5 percent despite their proximity to the basket, and Perkins, amazingly, fouled opponents on only 6.3 percent of their post-up possessions. Go back to the 2008-09 season and the numbers get even better: 0.73 points per possession allowed and 35.4 percent shooting.
Following an ugly, ugly game that saw the Celtics tie a season-high for turnovers (21), the Trail Blazers still had high praise for their Eastern Conference foes. Here‘s what they told the Oregonian:
LaMarcus Aldridge: “They showed why they are champions. They played championship basketball. They do a good job of taking away the paint. Every time I wanted to go middle, I never saw anything [open]. I tried to force it a couple times, turned it over, but I think they are one of the best teams at not … letting you get to the basket.”
Nate McMillan: “That’s a great team. That team is prepared and built to win a championship. I thought our guys scrapped. I thought they played hard. They battled tonight. But they have so many options that they can go to. When you have that many options and that team is locked in to playing that way, knowing how to win. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Two other interesting statistics from the Celtics’ victory on Thursday night:
- Portland out-shot the C’s, 90-64, but made only three more field goals (33-30).
- In just 31 minutes, Kevin Garnett nearly recorded his first triple-double of the season (10 points, 9 rebounds and a season-high 9 assists).
|Danny Ainge on The Big Show: C’s not likely to deal at deadline||01.27.11 at 5:26 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show for his weekly visit and said that the team was likely to stay intact through the rest of the season. The trade deadline is Feb. 24, but unlike last season the Celtics aren’t likely to be in the trade market.
“Of course there’s players out there that are good players, but I like our team,” Ainge said. “I like the mix when we’re all healthy. It’s also very difficult to make any trades because the contracts that could make some significant noise are the contracts of our big four And then the guys on our bench like Perk or [Glen Davis], we certainly don’t want to move any of those guys to make and of those trades. So I like our team and I think this is probably the team that we’ll be with by the time the season ends.”
Ainge said that getting West back will be a key addition for the Celtics because of his versatility. “We’re looking forward to Delonte coming back, but he probably won’t be back until the end of February,” Ainge said. “He’s a perfect fit and compliment to the guys that we have on our bench and maybe the guy that’s the most versatile. He shoots and he handles the ball. He runs the team. He’s a terrific defender, rebounder. We really miss having Delonte out there.”
Here are more highlights from the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kendrick Perkins, NBA officials and how you know ‘Perk’s back’ for real||01.26.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
Memo to Kendrick Perkins: While you were gone from the NBA – impressively rehabbing your right knee – the league decided to give more power to the referees that officiate NBA games.
During their annual meeting last fall in Jersey City, N.J., the league’s officials, in conjunction with the league, announced new guidelines for technical fouls, including T’ing up any and all “overt” player reactions to calls.
Just because we’re here to help, here’s what NBA officials are on the lookout for in determining whether a player should be “T’d” up:
– Running directly at an official to complain about a call.
– Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.
– Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.
– Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.
This season, refs have also been instructed to consider technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure. Additionally, officials can also consider techs on players who “take the long path to the official,” i.e., walking across the court to make their case.
So, what would a return to NBA game action be without Perk testing out those new limits?
He did just that in the first half when he was called for a personal foul and raised his arms and scowled that trademark “Perk Scowl”. But apparently, he mellowed during physical therapy. He stopped short of getting a tech. Last season, Perk was called for seven technicals in the playoffs alone, but the second one in Game 5 against the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals was rescinded by the league, thus he avoided suspension.
If a player accumulates 16 in a regular season, he draws an automatic one-game suspension. Perk has a long way to go to approach that.
‘He’s going to get a tech soon,” coach Doc Rivers smiled and laughed after Tuesday’s win over Cleveland. “Yeah, we’ll see I think because he started so late he can’t get to the number. So I think we’re safe there because at the end of the day Perk’s going to be Perk. I mean, he almost ran after the guy the one time. And I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Perk’s back.’ That’s the whole bench; when he did it the bench started laughing, saying ‘Perk’s back.’ I’m thinking we have a cushion.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA.
There’s a rumor going around that the Celtics are interested in Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton, but Mannix downplayed it.
“That’s just a rumor,” he said. “The only way they acquire him is by buyout. Right now, the ownership situation in Detroit is in such flux that that buyout, it ain’t coming anytime soon. And I’d be really surprised if it came before March 1st.”
Mannix acknowledged that “Hamilton would be a great asset in Boston” and “something has to happen” because Hamilton and coach John Kuester are at odds. However, Mannix said, “I just don’t see him getting bought out right now. He’s owed $25 million over the next two years. If he’s not willing to take a significant pay cut from that ‘ and I’m talking in the $16 [million], 17 million range ‘ he’s just not going anywhere. Now as long as the ownership situation is so up in the air out here.”
“To see him come back this early from what can only be described as a devastating knee injury, is unbelievable,” Mannix said. “Certainly, he’s got a long way to go. From watching that game, he has no lift on his legs right now. That’s going to take time to come back, to re-develop that explosiveness that he once had right around the rim. But it’s an amazing story, getting him back this quickly.”
Added Mannix: “I expect over the next two months for him to kind of be a work in progress. But that fact that he’s back now, that bodes well for Boston. Because it seems like if you give him a couple of months to get his legs back under him, come late March, early April, he should be back to close to the form he once was.”
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge would trade anybody||at 11:53 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Here are five things that we learned from Thomsen’s conversation with Ainge:
1. During the 1988-89 season, Ainge urged Red Auerbach to trade Bird to the Pacers for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich, as well as McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins.
“I’ll never forget being at that Christmas party and we discussed them. He told us all at that time he wasn’t going to trade any of us, that he wanted us to finish our careers as Celtics. And a few months later, they traded me for Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney. …
(Interjection: It’s kind of funny that the guy who pleaded Red to deal Bird and McHale got traded himself. Coincidence? You tell me.)
“But you could get Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins in their early 20s for Kevin McHale on a downward-slide team that was not going to win a championship. Stipanovich would be hurt and wouldn’t play, but Chuck had a good career. Those guys were still young, and instead you were getting two or three more years of Larry, but you were only getting 75-80 percent of Larry. We didn’t have a chance to win the championship in ’88-89 because Larry wasn’t playing — he was in those ankle casts. I don’t think anybody really believed we were a championship team during the 1988-89 season or after that. We were just hanging on.”
By the way, here are the best seasons from Bird, Person, Williams, Stipanovich, McHale, Schrempf and Perkins after the 1988-89 season:
- Bird (1989-90): 24.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 47.3 FG%, 33.3 3-PT FG%, 93.0 FT%
- Person (1989-90): 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 48.7 FG%, 37.2 3-PT FG%, 78.1 FT%
- Williams (1990-91): 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 50.7 FG%, 63.8 FT%
- Stipanovich: never played after the 1987-88 season (injury)
- McHale (1989-90): 20.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks, 54.9 FG%, 89.3 FT%
- Schrempf (1992-93): 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 52.3 FG%, 51.4 3-PT FG%, 83.9 FT%
- Perkins (1991-92): 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 45.0 FG%, 81.7 FT%
If it were me, with the benefit of hindsight, there’s no way I would’ve traded Bird for that package during the 1988-89 season. McHale? Well, that’s a different story.
|Ray Allen: ‘We’ve been less than ourselves’ without Kendrick Perkins||01.25.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
Following Kendrick Perkins‘ early return to the Celtics lineup, just about everybody was asked about the team’s 26-year-old center, and Ray Allen — dressed in a Shaft-like leather jacket and a sweater that went up to his nose — was no different.
“We’ve kind of been less than ourselves over the last three or fourth months, just waiting,” said Allen of Perkins’ absence this season. “We’ve had great success with the guys we’ve been using, but we haven’t had the lineup that’s been consistent here over the last three and a half years, when we’ve been successful and won some big games, including the championship. So, it’s great to see him back out on the floor, and it just makes us that much stronger.”
The vibe in the Celtics locker room felt different after the team disposed of the Cavaliers, 112-95, and it’s because, like Jerry Maguire, Perkins completes them.
“When he went down, obviously eyes around the world were on him,” added Allen. “Everybody felt a little sympathy for us, because we weren’t whole. Him coming back has a great symbolism to it, because we know what we’re trying to get back to.”
Perkins’ return was a reminder of how close the Celtics came to winning another NBA title last season before he went down with his ACL injury in Game 6 of the finals, especially considering his six rebounds in 17 minutes on Tuesday night.
And before the C’s get back to where they want to go, they’ll have another reminder of that Game 7 loss when they visit the Staples Center for the first time since to take on the Lakers on Sunday afternoon. But Allen’s blocking that from his memory.
“I’d like that to sneak up on me,” he said, “and just not think about it.”
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