|Irish Coffee: Shaq doing best Perk impression||11.15.10 at 10:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Off the court, Shaquille O’Neal has been everything Celtics fans could’ve expected — and more. Sunday’s trip as Shaq-A-Claus to Toys-R-Us in Framingham and his performance of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” at Cheers in downtown Boston are just two examples.
On the court? Forget Shaqeeta. O’Neal’s best impression has been of Kendrick Perkins. Shaq has been as good a replacement for the injured Perkins as the Celtics could’ve found.
Through 10 games, the C’s (8-2) are exactly where they were with Perkins in 2009-10. Defensively, with Perkins in the lineup, the 2009-10 Celtics ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (103.8); this fall, they rank sixth (101.7). With Perk in ’09-10, the C’s ranked 25th in rebounding differential (-1.5); this season, they’re 16th (+0.3).
Sure, some of that success can be attributed to Kevin Garnett‘s health, but Shaq should get some credit, too, as a worthy replacement for Perkins in five starts so far this season.
Take a look at the 2010-11 per-minute averages for Shaq vs. Perk’s numbers in 2009-10 (bolded statistics indicate an advantage) …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 0.46 points, 0.27 rebounds, 0.03 assists, 0.02 blocks, 0.02 steals, 0.09 turnovers and 0.18 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 0.37 points, 0.28 rebounds, 0.04 assists, 0.06 blocks, 0.01 steals, 0.08 turnovers and 0.10 personal fouls
However, Shaq has not been capable of matching Perkins’ minutes. Shaq has averaged 21.2 minutes in his five starts this season – 76.8 percent of the 27.6 minutes per game Perk played last year. Even playing 6.4 fewer minutes per game, Shaq has been able to produce a solid Perkins impersonation, as evidenced by their per-game averages …
- ’10-11 SHAQ: 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 1.8 turnovers and 3.8 personal fouls
- ’09-10 PERK: 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers and 2.8 personal fouls
Essentially, because Shaq has played so well, when he plays the C’s only need to make up 6.4 minutes of Perkins’ production at the center spot in order to provide some semblance of the starting five that has reached the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons. It’s safe to say that in spurts Glen Davis, Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal have been able to pick up that slack.
So far, at least, the Celtics have not missed Perkins, especially when Shaq has started in his place. That means two things for the Celtics going forward: 1) If Shaq remains healthy — and that’s a big if — it will allow Perkins to take his time regaining full strength; and 2) With both Shaq and Perk, the C’s could be a better team than the one that reached the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
JERMAINE O’NEAL & PERKINS SHARE THE LOVE
Prior to Jermaine O’Neal’s arrival in Boston, he and Perkins weren’t exactly best buddies. However, the moment they became teammates, any beef between them fell by the wayside. Jessica Camerato detailed their relationship this season …
“I just wanted to let him know it’s on the court, it’s not outside of that,” explained Perkins. “I’m a great teammate, but when you’re on the other team, I’m really going at your head. But I wanted to show him there isn’t any tension outside of basketball, no beef or nothing, and just kind of welcome him with open arms.”
I especially enjoyed Doc Rivers‘ take, which explains in part how quickly the C’s have been able to incorporate new bodies into a championship-contending system …
“We don’t like anybody on the other team,” Rivers said. “The outside guy is always a little iffy when he comes to our team, especially if we’ve had it in with him. But then they find out, wow this is the greatest group. They get along great. So that’s what’s happened already. … Once you’re on our team, you’re part of our group.”
As Shaq said in the same article, “Here there’s just one language — win, win, win, championship, championship, championship. And that’s all that we talk about.”
2010-11 HEAT CAN’T MIRROR ’07-08 CELTICS
While the Celtics have seamlessly incorporated new talent into an already existing system, the Miami Heat has struggled to establish a new system with all their new talent. In a Miami Herald piece, Rivers compared the Heat’s task with the one he faced three seasons ago …
“It’s the exact same thing, and I think everyone goes through it to some extent,” said Rivers, who added that this year’s Celtics are experiencing similar problems. “The more guys you add — the more key guys you add — the first year for us, our Big 3 were in each other’s way at times early because no one wanted to do too much.”
Rivers said he had to have “a big summit early in the year” to explain everyone’s role on the team. [Kevin] Garnett was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year that season.
“Kevin was so key to us — and in some ways, [Chris] Bosh is doing the same things — but Kevin can take 20 shots or one shot and it won’t affect his day at all,” Rivers said.
“He’s unselfish to a fault at times.”
Rivers said the 2007-08 championship team began the season with a slightly different dynamic than the Heat because the Celtics’ stars were older and “they were at the point in their careers where they had to solidify their careers and that made it easier for me.”
I think Rivers was being kind when he said Bosh is doing the same things this season as KG did in 2007-08. There’s simply no way Bosh is going to be the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
In his weekly mailbag, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen took on the same issue. In his eyes, the C’s two straight victories over the Heat this season should help the Big Three forego their egos in favor of the unselfishness that allowed the Celtics to thrive three years ago …
This isn’t about improving their skills; it’s about deepening their wisdom. When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen united in Boston, they understood intuitively the demands of coach Doc Rivers to alter their games in order to fit together, because each of them had gone year after year after year of losing in the playoffs. They were all in their 30s and they were ready to change.
But these players in Miami haven’t been humbled enough in their previous careers — if they had been forced to accept that humility, they never would have gone upon that stage and behaved so naively last July.
DOC NOT A FAN OF TWITTER
Speaking of the spectacle that was Miami’s Big Three this offseason, Rivers commented on Pierce’s “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to South Beach” tweet following the C’s victory this past Thursday night …
“I didn’t get laughs out of that stuff; I really don’t like that stuff,” said Rivers. “I don’t care one way or another but I don’t think you need to say anything. It’s a long season. It’s a good (dig) but I’m not a fan of all that stuff.”
I like how Rivers says he didn’t like it, and then says it’s a good dig. He may not be encouraging it, but he’s certainly not discouraging it, either.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
|Irish Coffee: Kendrick Perkins’ NBA secrets||11.11.10 at 10:22 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins may be out for the first few months because of his ACL injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t offer advice on how to guard the NBA‘s elite post players, like the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh.
In a recent Dime Magazine article, Perkins discussed his strategy …
“Very skilled face-up guy, but he’s not a physical player. I try to push him off the block and play him physical. He’s gonna score a few, but you can’t get frustrated by that. Just stay focused. You’d rather him hit you for 18 points than for 40 points.”
Given the physical play of Kevin Garnett, perhaps that’s why he was able to hold Bosh to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in their first meeting this season. Yet another matchup to watch tonight (we covered Rondo vs. Arroyo on Tuesday).
Perkins also discussed his game plan against Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Yao Ming, former teammate Al Jefferson and current teammate Shaquille O’Neal …
“I’ve been playing against Old Shaq, so I don’t know what it was like when he was younger. He’s kinda like Dwight [Howard], but not as athletic. He can’t really finish over the top no more, so you just keep a body between him and the rim.”
Throughout the discussion, Perkins is brutally honest, saying of Jefferson, “I don’t think he’s a great passer.” Great, great stuff.
The same author is also responsible for the magazine’s power rankings. Somehow, the Heat (No. 3) are ranked three slots higher than the Celtics (No. 6), despite the C’s better record and head-to-head victory. Hmmm …
The never-ending stream of entertainment that comes from having Shaquille O’Neal in town just keeps flowing.
Shaq and Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina sat down for a Q&A to discuss comedy. Here are a few things we learned …
- Garnett is the funniest player in the NBA.
- “Best prank I pulled was on Lou Amundson in Phoenix. I took a Snickers bar, put it in some water to get it real brown and wet and put it in my hand. [When he] came off the bench to go in the game, he had on white shorts, I rubbed it all over his shorts and said ‘good game, bro,’ so when he was running on the court he thought he s#@! himself.”
- Shaqeeta is done.
- He wants to become the next “The Rock” in the movie business and star alongside Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
- His favorite “Yo Mamma” joke: “Yo Mamma is so nasty her crabs have crabs.”
- The Big Aristotle is the best name he’s given himself.
- His top five comedy movies of all-time: “Don’t Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Juice in the Hood”, “Harlem Nights”, “Life”, “Me, Myself and Irene” and “Step Brothers”.
Shaq did the SI Q&A to promote an online video series for Power Balance where he interviews himself. It’s the funniest thing he’s ever done. Here’s a great exchange …
Shaq1: “So, you and Kobe [Bryant] finally made nice?”
Shaq1: “Did he get you a diamond ring?”
Shaq2: “I don’t accept diamond rings from guys.”
Shaq1: “Well, you should, because then you would have five rings, too, stupid.”
I also enjoyed Shaq asking himself, “What page were you on of the ‘Kazaam’ script when you called your agent and said, ‘I’m in’?” Hilarious.
O’Neal is also promoting his second annual “Join Shaq, Give Back” holiday campaign. As Shaq-a-Claus, he is encouraging “shoppers to donate new, unwrapped toys and cash in Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us stores nationwide and online at ToysRUs.com/ToysforTots.”
“My parents always encouraged me to give back to those less fortunate, and ever since I made it to the NBA, I’ve been visiting Toys-R-Us stores during the holiday season to buy gifts for kids in need,” O’Neal said. “As a father myself, I know firsthand how magical it is for a child to open a gift on Christmas morning.”
Since Oct. 31, the program has raised $366,139. Great stuff all-around off the court. Now, if only he could get back on the court.
|Shaq a likely no-go but ‘big brother’ is ready||11.01.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal missed his second straight practice on Monday with a right knee bruise suffered late in Friday’s game against the Knicks and likely won’t play on Tuesday in Detroit, according to coach Doc Rivers.
“I doubt if he plays [Tuesday] but we’ll see,” Rivers said following practice, which didn’t include O’Neal. “If he has a chance [to play] he’ll make the trip.”
O’Neal instead spent the time in the swimming pool with fellow injured big man Kendrick Perkins as both worked on therapy for knee injuries. The team did get good news on another O’Neal. Jermaine O’Neal, who suffered swelling in his left knee following the loss to Cleveland last Wednesday, returned to practice on Monday and will make the trip to Detroit.
“[Shaquille's] brother? He had a good practice and he’ll play,” Rivers said with a laugh. “Obviously, it could swell or something but right now, he looked good.”
Rivers said Jermaine O’Neal, who practiced with the first team, will see a lot of time as will rookie Semih Erden.
|Kendrick Perkins eyes late January return||10.26.10 at 7:25 pm ET|
If Kendrick Perkins had a choice he would have tried to play opening night, but it’s not his call and so he is resigned to making the most out of his current situation while he rehabs from knee surgery. Perkins is down 10 pounds to 271 (he’d like to lose 10 more) and has made it a goal to make 300 free throws every day. He doesn’t know a firm date yet for his return, but he said his goal is to be back by late January.
Perkins has been working to strengthen the muscles around his knee with squats and other leg exercises. He said his rehab was more of a mental test than anything. “It depends what kind of person you are,” Perkins said. “If you’re a mentally strong person, you can get through it.”
Perkins also said that he wasn’t threatened by the presence of Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. “I can’t bring what they bring to the table and they can’t bring what I bring to the table,” he said.
|Video proof Kendrick Perkins is back – at least in practice||at 12:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.
In the NBA, you have to stand on a court before you can really begin think about getting back into a game following reconstructive knee surgery.
But as one can see from this video – filmed Monday at Celtics practice – Kendrick Perkins certainly looks the part as he appears to be in the best shape of his career, a clear sign he has done significant rehab work already following June’s rebuild of his right knee after it buckled and collapsed in Game 6 of the NBA finals, along with the Celtics’ hopes of banner No. 18.
Now, looking the part of a svelte, lean and mean big man, Perkins has hit the court and has started shooting short jumpers and free throws.
The big man is expected to be out until at least January following the repair of the ACL in his right knee.
|Celtics put Kendrick Perkins, Avery Bradley and Semih Erden on inactive list||10.25.10 at 8:36 pm ET|
The Celtics had already trimmed their roster to the league limit of 15 players, but their opening night roster is now official as they placed three players on the inactive list: Kendrick Perkins, Avery Bradley and Semih Erden. The Celtics will have to play the first 10 games of the NBA with just 11 active players because of Delonte West’s suspension. League rules dictate that suspended players must be carried on the active roster.
The inactive list is not like injury lists in other sports. Players don’t actually have to be injured to be on it and there is no mandatory amount of time that a player has to stay on it once he is deemed inactive. It can also change from game to game. There were no surprises for the Celtics. Perkins and Bradley are rehabbing injuries, while Erden is dealing with a shoulder injury.
The Heat had a minor surprise as they placed Mario Chalmers on the injured list along with Mike Miller, who is out until January with hand injury, and rookie Dexter Pittman.
|Celtics practice what Doc preaches||10.23.10 at 4:08 pm ET|
The Celtics went through a hard practice at Waltham Saturday. This was a different sort of workout than the one they endured Friday, which stretched out past three hours. As the curtain lifted, they were going through a scrimmage, complete with refs and all the intensity you would expect from a regular season game.
“It was the best practice we’ve had in a while,” Doc Rivers said. “It was good to see. Following yesterday’s fiasco of a practice, I thought today was phenomenal.”
But what really stood out was the sight of Kendrick Perkins, whiteboard in hand, drawing up a play for the second team (usually referred to as the White Team for their jerseys, as opposed to the starters, who wear green). The play was for Von Wafer to come off a back pick, but it didn’t go according to plan.
“We needed a 3 at the time,” coach Perk explained. “We were down six. So I went with a Doc play. We didn’t execute it right.”
This whole exercise was by design. It’s something Rivers learned from Mike Fratello when he played for him in Atlanta. “I saw something during the game,” Rivers said. “We came into the huddle and I said we’ve got to run this. We did it and we won the game, but that was the last time he let me do it.”
Rivers has tried this out with his players at various times — Gabe Pruitt called up a game-winner a few years back — and the benefits work both ways.
“You see a lot when you’re hurt and on the sidelines,” Perkins said. “You put yourself in the coach’s shoes and see what they’re going through. I’m just trying to install it in my head so when I get in there I won’t make the same mistakes.”
“You learn a lot,” Rivers said. “You see what they’re thinking. You see who they think should take the shots. Who they think can make plays. What they learn is they get frustrated when guys don’t execute. That’s how I feel the whole game. It’s good learning tool for everybody.”
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen usually take the honors for the Green Team, Rivers said, while Perkins, Glen Davis and Delonte West often take charge of the White Team. So who calls the best plays?
“Ray,” Rivers said. “Because it’s always for him. Rondo and Ray are pretty darn good.” Read the rest of this entry »