|Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’||05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Between Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett alone, it has never been easy to pinpoint the best player on the Celtics. Throw the development of Rajon Rondo into the mix this season, and the task is even tougher.
It’s easy, though, for Kendrick Perkins. Not only does he consider Rondo to be the C’s top player, he also considers him their lifeline.
‘I think right now, he’s the best player on our team,’ Perkins told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. ‘Without Rondo, nothing goes. Pretty much we’ve got to play him the whole game because he just runs the whole team. Without him, we’d be dead.’
Rondo is playing a team-high 41 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. His numbers have consistently improved from the regular season throughout the playoffs. In the first three games against the Cavs, he leads with team with 19.3 points and 13.0 assists, more than five points and three assists better than the regular season. He is also shooting 56.8 percent from the field and averaging 5.0 rebounds, more boards than Allen and Pierce.
‘I think he stepped up,’ said Perkins. ‘He’s been more focused than ever, in my opinion, and he’s been doing a great job of leading us.’
|Garnett practices, feels good||05.06.10 at 2:29 pm ET|
“I’m feeling really good,” Garnett said. “Went through practice today. It was pretty hard. Good day. I’m not injured. I just banged my foot, got on the plane and it blew up on me. Nothing more, nothing less than that.”
Garnett added that, “I’ll definitely be ready to go [in Game 3, Friday].”
Garnett appeared to injure his foot when Kendrick Perkins landed on his foot in the first half. He sort of verified that version of events.
“Little bit,” Garnett said. “The good thing is I was able to finish the game strongly.”
Garnett, and Perkins (hyperextended knee) were both held out of practice Wednesday. Perkins was deemed precautionary and no one was surprised that he returned Thursday. Garnett’s was a little trickier. He apparently wanted to practice Wednesday, but was shut down by Doc Rivers.
“We live on the planet of Doc Rivers,” Garnett said. “And on that planet sometimes you have to sit out a day”
Rivers expressed his doubt yesterday that Garnett would have been able to practice, but he was pleasantly surprised by his recovery.
“He’s good,” Rivers said. “He went most of the practice and moved pretty well. I was surprised he went, yeah. Eddie [Lacerte, the team’s trainer] and I, but the swelling went down a lot yesterday and none today. He said he didn’t feel any pain, so that was good. We expected Perk, but Kevin was a surprise. Perk looks fine. He moved pretty well. For Perk. He moved well for Perk.”
One way to tell that Garnett was feeling good was he was in a joking mood with the media. Someone asked him, how he “woke up Rasheed Wallace.” Garnett replied, “I slapped his [butt].” He was kidding. We think.
|Garnett, Perkins miss practice||05.05.10 at 2:55 pm ET|
Of the two, Garnett’s is apparently more worrisome. He suffered what the team called a right mid-foot strain late in the fourth quarter of Game 2. He arrived for practice but was told to shut it down by Doc Rivers.
“Honestly, today, if we had a game I don’t think he could have played,” Rivers said. “We just have to wait. I doubt if he’ll practice tomorrow. We’ll see. Perk we think will be all right. I don’t know if he can practice tomorrow either.”
Perkins suffered a hyperextended right knee during the team’s shootaround but did score 10 points and have nine rebounds in 30 minutes. He was also a team-best +20 in plus/minus. Perkins had a bout with knee tendinitis in March.
The Cavs have their own injury problems with LeBron James undergoing another MRI on his right elbow and Anderson Varejao missing part of the fourth quarter with back spasms. Varejao was examined by the team doctors Tuesday. The series has a three day break between games, which now seems like a very good thing for both teams.
“The rest, we were complaining, but now it turns out that rest is good for everybody,” Rivers said. “It’s probably good for Cleveland. They have a chance to get healthy.”
Garnett was not present to talk to the media Wednesday, but Perkins did an expressed confidence that both he and Garnett would play Friday.
“I’ll be ready for Friday,” Perkins said. “Hopefully I can practice [Thursday.] Kevin wanted to practice. He was mad that Doc wanted him to sit out. He’ll play.”
Perkins said that he hurt himself running and joked that he was, “just being clumsy. It happens.”
UPDATE: Garnett’s injury may have actually come in the second quarter when Perkins landed on his foot. Here’s the video:
|C’s plan to stop Varejao’s ‘dirty work’||at 1:32 pm ET|
Anderson Varejao is far from a Celtics fan favorite. He isn’t a flashy scorer, nor is he a finesse player. But that’s not what his game is about.
‘The man does one thing, and he does it well, and that’s what he gets paid for,’ Kevin Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’s Game 2 victory (listen to the audio here). ‘And you know what? He doesn’t score a lot, he feeds off LeBron [James], he picks up the garbage, he does the dirty work. He’s out here trying to get guys rattled, trying to get technicals, the dumb stuff. You know, the stuff that shouldn’t even be in basketball, but it is.’
Even though Varejao does the dirty work for the Cavs, he still makes an impact on the scoreboard. He entered the series averaging 13 points and nine boards against the Celtics during the regular season, including a 17-point, 10-rebound performance in March.
In response, the C’s have turned to their bigs to combat Varejao’s energy and keep him away from the glass. They have limited him to a total of 12 points and 13 rebounds in Games 1 and 2 combined. Half of those points have come at the line.
‘We watched a lot of tape, we focused, we understand we’ve got to block him out,’ Garnett said. ‘He’s pure energy, he is a momentum changer, and we understand that. Baby is our momentum changer. And I think not just Kevin Garnett, but Rasheed Wallace, Big Baby Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Shelden Williams, everybody’s been getting a body on him, we’ve been conscious of where he is. And we’ve been helping and trying to foul him and make him score at the free throw line. And it’s been working so far. Knock on wood.’
|Sheed takes heed from Garnett||05.04.10 at 11:46 pm ET|
Turns out, Rivers wasn’t the only one who wanted to see Wallace step up. Kevin Garnett also believed Wallace was critical to the Celtics postseason success, and he made it a point to tell him that.
‘After the first game, I went to him in the shower and I said, ‘In order for us to beat this team, man, it’s going to take not just the starting five. It’s going to take Rasheed, it’s going to take Tony Allen, it’s going to take Marquis (Daniels), Big Baby (Glen Davis), Shelden Williams, everybody, Nate Robinson. It’s going to take everybody who’s on that bench,’ Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’s Game 2 victory on Monday (listen to the audio here).
Garnett has known his teammate long enough to understand his receptiveness ‘ or lack thereof ‘ to feedback. But fortunately for Garnett, who was in the 1995 NBA draft class with Wallace, he is on that short list.
‘I went to him personally, you know, he don’t really listen to a lot of people,’ Garnett explained. “Sheed sort of goes by his own tune and he only respects a few, and I’m one of the very few that he listens to and that he respects. And I went to him and I said, ‘If you give us 10 and 10, we’re going to not only beat these Cavs, but we’re going to blow them out.’ I said, ‘I need 10 and 10 every night with you, at least in this series right here.’”
Wallace shot just 1-for-5 and recorded more fouls than points in Game 1. But Garnett knew what Wallace was capable of, in spite of a disappointing regular season in which he averaged nine points, four rebounds, shot 28 percent from 3-point range, and was assessed numerous technical fouls and fines. He wanted Wallace to put that behind him, focus on the postseason series at hand, and provide the Celtics with a solid contribution off the bench.
‘I said, ‘I don’t care what you’ve been going through. To hell with what the year is. So what? You can make it all up right here,’’ Garnett recounted. ‘And I got into him a little bit. I rubbed him the wrong way a little bit. And then later on we talked. He said, ‘You’re right.’’
Whatever the driving force may have been, Wallace stepped onto the court in Game 2 and gave one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored an efficient 17 points (7-for-8 on field goals and 3-for-4 on threes) in 18 minutes. Even though Wallace didn’t do anything fancy, it was just what the Celtics needed.
‘It was just good to see results,’ said Garnett. ‘He’s a gutty veteran, he knows how to play, and it was just big. He was big for us.’
|Cavs don’t rest on off day||at 9:47 pm ET|
The team elected to watch film in Cleveland Tuesday, even though they had a scheduled off day. Cavs coach Mike Brown ripped his team’s effort after Game 2 in which the Celtics evened the series with a decisive 104-86 victory.
“We have to decide if we are going to take the fight to them and take these games,” Brown said. “Ain’t a [expletive] thing is going to be given to us at all in this series. Plain and simple, they kicked our behind. This series is one to one. We are going to see what we’re made of in Game 3.’
The bigger story, however, is that LeBron James is scheduled to have another MRI on right elbow before Friday’s Game 3. He had one last week before the Cavs closed out the Bulls in their first-round series that revealed a bone bruise and a sprained elbow. James admitted that he started Game 1 tentatively and he faced questions after Game 2 when he attempted 15 shots (he also had 15 free throws).
Also, Anderson Varejao was examined by the team’s physician after back spasms took him out of Game 2. He is listed as day to day.Varejao was one of the few Cavs big men who played well in Game 2 and he was doing his best to try to rile up the Celtics.
[Go here to listen to Kevin Garnett’s post-game interview with WEEI in which he talked about Varejao’s play, as well as calling our Rasheed Wallace after Game 1]
This is a potentially huge problem for the Cavs who are getting minimal production out of Shaquille O’Neal and are also looking at big matchup problem with Antawn Jamison guarding Garnett. The Celtics believe they can exploit this matchup throughout the series and they have made a concerted effort to isolate Garnett on the left block against Jamison.
Rivers wants Garnett to look for his own offense more, which runs counter to his nature.
“He’s got to stay on that,” Rivers said between games. “He fights his own self because people don’t get that. They criticize him for being unselfish which is the craziest thing on earth, but that is who he is.”
Garnett has been aggressive. He tied a season-high with 20 shot attempts in Game 1 and shook off a slow first-half in Game 2 in which he went 2-for-9, by making his first three shots in the third quarter when the Celtics dominated play.
“Kevin was playing way too fast in the first half but he was still a concern on the post,” Rivers said after Game 2. “They’re trapping. They’re worried about him right now.”
Varejao is the key to the Cavs multiple frontcourt lineups because he can play both the four and five spots and is a much better defender than J.J. Hickson. Without him in the lineup, the Cavs have to either play small with James and either Jamison or Hickson up front, or go big with either O’Neal or Zydrunas Ilgauskus, which makes them much slower.
For their part, the Celtics took the day off and are scheduled to resume practice Wednesday.
|Kevin Garnett press conference||04.28.10 at 1:58 am ET|
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