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Delonte West shows TD Garden crowd he’s getting closer 02.04.11 at 7:32 pm ET
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Delonte West keeps progressing in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist. One day after he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility, he warmed up on the TD Garden floor, showing everyone he can catch with his right hand and shoot with his left.

“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”

But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.

“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”

Meanwhile, with Shaquille O’Neal out Friday and likely Sunday vs. the Magic, Kendrick Perkins was thrust into the starting lineup on Friday against the Mavericks, a little sooner than the All-Star break timetable Rivers orginally expected.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Delonte West, Doc Rivers
Kendrick Perkins may start soon, but will he finish? 02.03.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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Shaquille O’Neal didn’t practice Thursday because his Achilles is inflamed, according to coach Doc Rivers. That makes Shaq questionable for Friday’s game against the Mavericks. “We may play him [Friday], we may not,” Rivers said. “We’ll see.”

When Shaq hasn’t been able to go Rivers has turned to rookie Semih Erden in order to keep Glen Davis in his familiar sixth man role off the bench. But now that Kendrick Perkins has five games under his belt, don’t be surprised if he gets the call.

“We will [make the switch] eventually,” Rivers said. “It’€™s not a big deal to us. I’€™m more concerned about who finishes the game.”

The coach has a point. Without Perkins the Celtics have been using Davis at center in the fourth quarter. According to 82games.com, Rivers has used the lineup with the four starters and Davis as much as he has the starting five with Shaq. The Davis-at-center lineup has been productive, and it makes sense due to the minutes limitations on Shaq, as well as his well-documented foul difficulty this season.

But Perkins’ return gives the Celtics options and that’s never a bad thing.

Perkins said he was a little surprised by how quickly he’s been able to get back in the flow. He had 10 points and nine rebounds against the Blazers and eight and 10 against the Kings. He also logged about 93 minutes on the four-game west coast trip and lasted 27 minutes against the Lakers.

“I thought I’€™d be off by so much,” Perkins said after practice Thursday. “I thought I’€™d have to get into a rhythm or whatever it may be. I’€™m just going to keep putting in the hard work. I’€™m still not where I want to be, but I am happy where I’€™m at.”

Asked what he felt he needed to improve, Perkins said, “Just my timing. My jumping. That’€™s about it. Timing and jumping. I feel like I have to get off the floor a little bit better.”

It’s only a matter of time before he rejoins the starting five. The real question will be answered at the end of the games.

Read More: Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
Kendrick Perkins on D&H: Ray Allen’s outburst was shocking but pleasing at 2:20 pm ET
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Celtics center Kendrick Perkins joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about his early return from knee surgery. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“I just put in a lot of hard work,” he explained. “Every day I was in here making sure I was getting my physical therapy in, making sure I was in the weight room every day. I just wanted to get back. I wanted to get back the smart way.”

Perkins acknowledged that he has a ways to go before he returns to form. “There’s a few times around the basket where I’m used to just catching it and going up and dunking,” he said. “My lift is not all the way there yet.”

Perkins said he’s pleased with the minutes he’s been getting since coming back. “I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m happy to be back out there. I’m playing a lot right now. So, I can’t complain one bit. I know one thing about Doc [Rivers], he’s going to look out for my best interests. But he also wants to win games. So, if I’m not producing, I should come out. But I feel like if I’m producing out there, then just leave me out there. I think he’s gradually starting to play me a little bit more and more. So it’s cool.”

The absence of Perkins in the first half of the season was made easier for the Celtics with the play of Shaquille O’Neal. “I think he’s brought a lot,” Perkins said. “Obviously, he’s given us depth. For a 38-year-old man, he’s playing well. He’s fit right on in with us. The chemistry is great. Obviously, you know everything about his basketball ‘€” he’s physical, he’s intimidating and all this. So, I think he brings a lot to the team. A lot.”

Perkins called Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo “divas” when they gave him a hard time about signing a poster for him. He was asked to elaborate on that comment. “Divas are like people who want things a certain way ‘€” their way ‘€” all the time. That’s what divas are,” he said. “They want their socks laid out a certain way or something of that nature. That’s why I called them divas. They want their own seat on the bench and stuff like that. They give a teammate and a friend that they’ve known for years trouble about signing a poster for me. That’s divas ‘€” just giving me a hard time, but they know they’re really going to do it, but they’ve got to give you a hard time first.”

Ray Allen ripped into the second unit at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Perkins said he was surprised but pleased with the veteran’s rare outburst. “I was very shocked,” Perkins said. “Because you know, Ray is a guy who very seldom shows emotions. I think he’s always one of the most poised guys on the team. So, he was very frustrated at halftime, and he had a reason to be. I actually was shocked, but I actually was like, ‘Yeah, Ray!’ I loved it. First I thought it was KG when I walked in. But it was Ray, so I was loving it.”

Perkins was injured in Game 6 of the 2010 finals and did not play in Game 7 as the Lakers rallied for the win. Asked if he thinks the Celtics would have won the title had he been healthy, he said: “I think so. I know one thing ‘€” we probably wouldn’t have gotten outrebounded by 20. So, I believe so.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: Time to start Kendrick Perkins 02.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET
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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):

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Walton, Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Magic Johnson
Irish Coffee: Why Celtics should fear Suns 01.28.11 at 12:33 pm ET
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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.

PORTLAND PERSPECTIVE

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).

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail to brohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Danny Ainge on The Big Show: C’s not likely to deal at deadline 01.27.11 at 5:26 pm ET
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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.

Not only are they playing better, but Ainge also pointed to the return of Kendrick Perkins last week, as well as the return of Delonte West, hopefully in late February.

“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.”

[Go to The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the whole interview]

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 »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins, The Big Show
Kendrick Perkins, NBA officials and how you know ‘Perk’s back’ for real 01.26.11 at 2:21 pm ET
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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.

‘€œHe’€™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 »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, NBA
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