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Celtics need to walk a fine line 05.21.10 at 6:16 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has told his team time and time again about ‘Old School’ NBA, especially as it relates to the playoffs.

But Saturday night, when his team takes to the floor against the desperate Orlando Magic, he doesn’t want his team to get caught up in what is likely to be a physical game with Dwight Howard and the Magic. He also doesn’t want his team to get pushed around either as the Magic try to come in and physically prove to the Celtics they haven’t checked out of the Eastern Conference finals, despite losing the first two games on home court.

“They should be feisty and we should be, too,” Rivers said following a high-spirited Friday practice, their final before Game 3. ” It’s the playoffs. It’s Game 3 and we’re trying to defend our home turf, now and they’re trying to take it away. There’s every reason it should be feisty and it will be and we should be feisty, too.

“Obviously, you want to always keep your head but that doesn’t mean to back down. That means you want to play with composure, play with intensity and you’ve got to play hard.”

Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins agreed with Rivers, saying they are expecting a ‘feisty’ Orlando Magic team for Game 3 Saturday night at TD Garden. The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference finals 2-0 and can take an overwhelming 3-0 lead with a win, a deficit no team has ever overcome in NBA playoff history.

“It could get feisty in there. You have to expect it,” said Pierce, who was still bearing a pair of scratch marks on his forehead above his left eye after being decked by Dwight Howard in the second quarter of Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“Doc always say the bigger man walks away,” added big man Kendrick Perkins, who will once again be assigned to Howard. “You just have to go out there and play, play Celtics basketball.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Magic
Against Howard, Perk stays grounded 05.20.10 at 2:59 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

WALTHAM — Before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins was apprised that several media outlets were getting on Dwight Howard after he scored just 13 points in the series opener. Perkins’ eyes grew wide and then he sighed.

“What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad,” Perkins said to WEEI.com. “Then I come out and I got my hands full.”

Perkins did have his hands full with Howard in Game 2 as the big man scored 30 points. Not that Perkins was around for most of it since he fouled out in just 15 minutes of action.

“Do I take it personally? Yep, I do,” Perkins said Thursday before the team’s practice session. “I’m a defender so I do take it personally. Guy got 30 on me, but it happens to the best of us. We ended up getting a win, so that’s really all that matters.”

Still Perkins knows that he has to do better in Game 3 and that starts even before the ball gets to Howard.

“You’ve got to keep a body on him,” he said. “It’s going to be physical all series. That’s the key. You can’t let him set up shop where he wants to set up shop. You’ve got to kind of force him outside his comfort zone just a little bit.”

In theory, the Celtics are OK if Howard goes off. It’s when Howard goes off and everyone else for Orlando gets in on the act that’s a problem.

“We don’t want him to go for 30, but when he goes for 30 he goes for 30, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Rivers said. “As long as he didn’t go for 30 and get everyone else involved, we can live with it. We were not happy with the way we defended him. We did not have a great night defending Dwight. We have to do better. We have to expect somebody on their team to start making shots. If we give him 30+ and they start making shots then you can’t beat them.”

Again that starts with not letting Howard get deep post position because once he does, it’s game over.

“He caught it too deep throughout the game,” Rivers said. “Some of the shots he made, we’ll live with. We don’t mind any made shot if it’s defended. Jumpers, layups, we don’t care.”

Perkins, of course, does care a great deal about his defense on Howard. It’s the thing that has helped make his reputation over the years. But he also recognizes that a key element of the Celtics defensive strategy is that he will be afforded no help in his task.

It’s his role in this series and he’s determined to do a better job in Game 3.

“We’re just trying to make it tough on him,” Perkins said. “We’re not trying to overreact to him scoring.”

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins,
Celtics on message at 1:58 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Say this for the Celtics, they are on point with their message.

This was Doc Rivers speaking to reporters before the team conducted practice Thursday:

“Each game is a single game. That’s what we talk about. That’s been our speech through the playoffs. We’ve yet to beat Orlando on our home floor this year and that’s something we have to focus on.”

This was Kendrick Perkins about two minutes later:

“We’ve got to come home and take care of home They’re undefeated when they play us at home. They beat us both times in the regular season. This first game is going to be the most important game.”

Rivers has been pushing all the right buttons with his team during the playoffs, both in terms of on-court maneuvering and off-court messaging and in this case the message is crystal clear: Orlando beat us two times at home during the regular season and we haven’t done anything yet.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins,
All eyes on Howard 05.18.10 at 7:37 pm ET
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ORLANDO –Dwight Howard finished second in the MVP voting and was voted to the NBA’s First Team. He is a monster defender, as evidenced by his Defensive Player of the Year award.

But sometimes Howard can’t win, because too often in this game players get judged by their offensive numbers, and by any measure his were sub-par in Game 1. He scored 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting and turned it over seven times, which is a direct reflection on the Celtics defense.

Howard’s been getting some heat for his play, with some suggesting that he needs to score 30 points in Game 2 to justify his standing among the league’s elite. Stan Van Gundy, for one, disagrees.

“No, and here’s one of the problems,” Van Gundy said. “I think that it is a tough thing and you have to be a very strong person today if you are one of the best players. Whether it’s Dwight Howard or LeBron James because they will tear you apart in the media and say, ‘You need to do this, this and this to prove to us,’ and that may not be what your team needs you to do to win the game. Are you about your reputation at siliencing your critics, or are you about doing what you need to do to help your team win?”

Still, Kendrick Perkins is aware of the scrutiny, and what it might mean for him.

“It’s scary in a way,” Perkins said. “If he comes out and tries to do too much and is on point, it’s scary. Everybody goes through this at one point. I don’t think he played a bad game in my opinion. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do defensively. What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad. Then I come out and I got my hands full.”

Van Gundy noted that part of the burden lies with him and the rest of the Magic. While he didn’t say it, look for Orlando to try and get Howard moving toward the basket on the pick and roll to make Perkins try and keep up with him. But if Howard has another game like he did in the opener, the criticism will surely follow.

“He’s going to be have to just be able to deal with the criticism, as unfair as it is right now,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a great player. We wouldn’t be anywhere near the level that we have been without him. For whatever reason, no matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t matter that the Boston Celtics turned things around with their defense in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how many times people say that defense wins. The bottom line is the media won’t stop judging guys on their offense.”

If nothing else, Perkins can empathize with Howard.

“Dwight’s a good dude,” he said. “He’s got to focus on what he’s supposed to be doing. He can’t worry about what other people say.”

He’s got enough to worry about with Perkins, and maybe vice-versa tonight.

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins,
Perkins is a fifth wheel no longer 05.17.10 at 1:15 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins continues to shine defensively playing in the shadows of the Big Three and Rajon Rondo. (AP)

Kendrick Perkins continues to shine defensively playing in the shadows of the Big Three and Rajon Rondo. (AP)

ORLANDO — When you think of the Celtics, you think of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce willingly sharing the collective glory. Or maybe you think about Rajon Rondo’s emerging brilliance. Rarely do you think about Kendrick Perkins, the team’s defensive anchor in the paint.

That’s cool with Perk, whose perpetual scowl masks an open and honest individual who doesn’t really mind whether he gets the credit or not.

“Nope,” he said Monday before the team practiced. “I actually like it. It’s cool to have it, but I’m really beyond it. I just do my work. Danny [Ainge] told me something a long time ago. As long as your teammates are fans of yours and the coaches are fans of yours and the organization is fans of yours then you don’t need no any other fans.”

The Celtics certainly appreciate his work.

“Every night with Perk, he’s the tackling dummy.,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s getting hit, he’s getting punched. He’s getting knocked down and all he’s getting is picked up off the floor. But he does it. He doesn’t mind doing it. It’s just as important as a jump shot. Shooters get all the glory. He’s an offensive lineman.”

That changes a little bit in this series as he is matched up against Dwight Howard. This is where Perkins has made his reputation as a post defender, by not giving an inch against the NBA’s most intimidating physical specimen.

“You can’t come into the game like, ‘Oh, I’m playing Dwight, I’m playing Superman,’ ” Perkins said. “You have to come into the game willing to get dirty. I put my nose into the fight. That’s what it is.”

While Howard had his way with the Bobcats and Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Perkins was going toe-to-toe with Shaquille O’Neal, and he’s got the bruises to show for it.

“It’s about the same.,” Perkins said of the physical challenge. “Shaq’s big and strong. Dwight’s big and strong. Dwight’s quicker and more athletic so it’s a different challenge. You can get hurt against either one of them. I feel it though. Everywhere. You better believe that.”

Perkins goal with Howard is rather simple. Limit his catches deep in the post and try to push him further away from the basket. If the end result is a missed shot, it means that he’s done his work before the ball even got there.

“You try to limit his dunks,” Perkins said. “Any time he has a chance to get a dunk you want to wrap him up and send him to the foul line. When he gets a dunk he gets going. He can make a jump hook, he doesn’t really feel that. He gets his energy off of getting dunks.”

And it doesn’t help to have Rasheed Wallace behind him either since their styles are so different.

“I play him differently than everybody else,” he said. “Rasheed plays mind games with him. I’m just going to be a straight-up physical presence.”

Perkins isn’t doing anything that he doesn’t normally do, right down the scowl, but by staying consistent, he’s getting his due.

Read More: Kendrick Perkins,
Better safe than sorry with Perk 05.15.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Kendrick Perkins, the player primarily responsible for guarding Orlando’s Dwight Howard, was held out of practice on Saturday with a sore right knee. Perkins wore wraps on both knees and kept ice on his right one until the end of practice.

“He tried to go early and it bothered him a lot.” Rivers said. “He wanted to go I said, ‘I don’t need you tonight. You’re not going to help me today in practice. I need you tomorrow.’”

Following practice in Waltham, the Celtics left Saturday for Orlando and Sunday afternoon’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

Read More: Celtics, Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins, Magic
Perk reacts to Shaq’s elbow 05.12.10 at 4:08 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Things got a little heated Tuesday in Game 5 of the Celtics series with the Cavs as there were two sets of double technical fouls issued. The first pair were handed out to Kendrick Perkins and Shaquille O’Neal. The second went to Rajon Rondo and Mo Williams.

Rondo didn’t talk to the media Wednesday, but Perkins was asked about the exchange.

“I got caught up in the moment,” Perkins said. “He threw an elbow. He hit me in my neck. I just told him watch his elbows. If you let a guy keep throwing elbows and don’t tell him and let him get too comfortable, he’s going to keep doing it. At some point as a man you got to stand up.”

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
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