News 4/18 Apr 18, 2009 8:08:12 GMT -5
Post by FLCeltsFan on Apr 18, 2009 8:08:12 GMT -5
Kevin Garnett’s tutelage a Perk of job
Lessons may prove big for Celtics
By Mark Murphy | Saturday, April 18, 2009 | www.bostonherald.com | Boston Celtics
Photo by AP
Kevin Garnett’s nickname, “The Big Ticket,” is one of the best-known in the NBA, though his teammates generally don’t use it.
KG, or even a simple Kevin, slides a lot easier off the tongue.
But Kendrick Perkins [stats] is different. “Ticket” has become a regular part of the Celtics [team stats] center’s dialogue because he adulates his older teammate.
Perkins’ emergence as a much-improved and equally underrated post defender is the result of his two-year apprenticeship under Garnett.
The playoffs begin with today’s Game 1 against the Bulls at the Garden, and as in 25 of the final 29 regular-season games, Perkins, not Garnett, will be the defensive captain.
He can’t wail to the Garden rafters like Garnett. But Perkins has learned to get his point across, to communicate with a scowl from his spot in the paint.
“I’m just trying to get better,” he said. “The key is, guys just have to have a lot of trust in me. Your teammates have to trust you. You’re like the captain on defense, but as the playoffs start I have to do a better job of doing that. Since (Garnett) went out, we’ve been giving up more points.
“We’re scoring more, but we’re also giving more up. We have the No. 2 defense in the league field goal-wise, so we have to keep that up. I think you have to put a lot on your shoulders, and you have to do better than you’ve done during the season. In the playoffs you have to elevate your game. This is when it really matters.”
The ability of Perkins and fellow big men Leon Powe, Glen Davis and Mikki Moore to stay clear of foul trouble will be one of the greatest challenges against the Bulls.
But there’s also such a thing as excessive self-imposed pressure, which Perkins is prone to, as well.
“Perk just has to be Perk, doing what he’s done all year long,” Paul Pierce [stats] said. “He’s our defensive stopper. We put him on the other post guys. He’s our shot blocker, our rebounder. He’s probably going to have to play more minutes.
“But we’re not throwing a heavy load on Perk. It has to also come from Baby, from Leon, Mikki Moore, from all the guys we have out there who can play that position.”
That’s why, when asked about Perkins’ importance, Doc Rivers carefully included all four of his big men in the answer.
“The good news as far as Kevin being out, we have been able to work on our defense,” the Celtics coach said. “The numbers - the old numbers of Kevin being out were up in terms of teams scoring more - but the recent numbers show that we’re a better defensive team. We’re getting better again. Before we were trying to outscore everybody, and I thought in the last 10 games we started stopping teams again - minus the Cleveland game (a 107-76 loss last Sunday), we should throw that one out.
“We must be a great defensive team to win in the playoffs. Perk is very verbal. The year with Kevin has really helped him. Baby is becoming more verbal on the floor. Leon and Mikki are catching up to that. Having the four is really big. The biggest part of Kevin being out was that we only had three bigs. Leon was out as well, and (Brian Scalabrine) was out. So we had three bigs, and one (Moore) was learning a new system.”
School is out, though.
And Perkins, as the new paint presence of record, has to tie the rest of these players together. Losing Garnett in mid-February actually may have been a blessing.
“It helped us a lot,” Perkins said. “It gave Leon a chance and Baby a chance to step up. I think our confidence is through the roof. In the playoffs the big thing is that we all have to be consistent.
“People are counting us out. I don’t even think people expect us to make it past the second round. We just have to give ourselves a chance to win every game. As long as we have the Truth and Ray Allen, we’ll be all right.”