Kendrick Perkins is dealing with his injury well. He has worked out like a fiend, whipping himself into good shape. Despite a recovery that’s going as planned, Perkins has his mind in the right place. He will likely delay his return until after the All-Star break. (Boston Herald)
“It can be real,” Perk said of playing sometime late next month, “but I think if I play it smart I’ll wait to come back until after All-Star break. That’ll give me more time.
“I think, what’s one more month, right?”
Right. But who will start when Perk returns? And, if you’re someone who thinks it’s finishing that matters, who will finish games? Will it still be Glen Davis?
I examined the Shaq-Perk issue in my latest piece for CelticsBlog.
As much as I like Perk, the starting five has impressed with Shaq in the lineup. Shaq can’t do some things Perk does (hedging pick-and-rolls being one thing), but he’s a better offensive player. Where Perk catches, pauses, brings the ball to his ankles, thinks about what to eat for dinner, licks his finger to test the wind, and then finally shoots a layup, Shaq catches and finishes in one smooth motion. Shaq also moves well without the ball, seemingly always finding himself open when his teammates penetrate. Throughout the season, Kevin Garnett has repeatedly mentioned Shaq’s ability to draw defensive attention and leave Garnett more room to operate.
Best of all, Shaq has made the Celtics better. According to 82games.com, the Celtics are 21.3 points better than their opponents when Shaq is on the floor, per 48 minutes. In case you couldn’t tell, that’s pretty good. The Celtics have adjusted to Shaq, and his presence has made the starting five potent, perhaps more potent than ever. Playing alongside great teammates in an offensive system he trusts, Shaq has been assisted on more of his buckets than ever before. He has rarely posted up defenders and almost never has plays run for him, yet Shaq has been, according to some stats, the best 35-and-older player in NBA history.
At the same time, Perkins wants to be the starter. He said before the season, “”My spot’s not up for grabs. When I come back, I will be getting my spot, and everybody else just has to adjust to me.” Then there’s that whole “the Celtics’ old starting five, with Perkins in it, has never lost a playoff series” thing.
Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe Perk and Shaq are both team-oriented enough to do whatever task Doc asks of them. Maybe either one would excel on the second unit. Maybe it won’t even matter because one of them will still be hurt.
But it’s at least a question worth asking. Will Kendrick Perkins’ return actually cause a few problems?