Morning Walkthrough: Perk could return sooner than expected; Shaq could “probably play two or three more years”
The Morning Walkthrough is a set of links to Boston Celtics articles throughout the internet, designed to get your day started the right way.
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “That late-January to early-February return that Perkins was talking about recently? He’s sounding – and looking – like a guy who may be given the green light to resume playing sooner than that. ‘I don’t know,’ Perkins said. ‘Since I got on the court, I think my (return) date probably got pushed up a bit.’ When asked if he was still looking to return next month, he said, ‘hopefully.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “But while he was more than a little angry with the officiating, the NBA’s refs may have Shaq to kick around a while longer. He said upon his arrival on the Celtics [team stats] that he’d be done when his two-year deal was up, but yesterday he opened the door to the future beyond that contract. ‘I’m on a team where I don’t have to do it all,’ Shaq said. ‘Everyone, especially around the city of Boston, knows my role. I’m not taking 28 shots anymore. I’ve missed 21⁄2 years’ worth of games, so even though I’ve played 18 years I’ve only played 16 years. My role is different. I’m not taking every shot. I’m playing limited minutes. So if I’m with this team and playing like this, I can probably play two or three more years. I have two years left, but I’ll know. And everybody else will know, too, because I’ll do a hell of a (expletive) press conference.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “And yet if you listen to the Celtics afterward, you would think they just lost to the Los Angeles Clippers and not a team that, when the season began, was on everyone’s short list as a title contender. ‘They can’t beat us,’ said Boston’s Glen Davis after Orlando, well, beat them. Davis clarified his words moments later by adding, ‘they came out and played better than us today, but if you are talking about a seven-game series, I don’t think they can beat us.’ … When you talked to Celtics players afterward, limiting Howard was not a surprise nor was it something they felt was overly impressive. ‘I have been playing Dwight since 2004, when I was playing against him in the AAU circuit,’ Davis said. ‘His game hasn’t really changed. It’s not like has a jump shot, or a new spin move. He has the same moves since high school. He has the same post moves.’ Kevin Garnett, a former league defensive player of the Year, didn’t see the C’s doing anything special against Howard, either. ‘I thought everybody who guarded him did a good job on him,’ Garnett said. ‘It is not like he has a ton of moves. He is either going to jump-hook you, spin-lob … he is very predictable.’”
Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated – “There will be many factors that will influence Howard’s decision but none bigger than this: Winning. Yes, Orlando’s best chance to keep its franchise center in Magic blue is to win and emerge as the class of the Eastern Conference, outgunning Chicago, Miami and most importantly, Boston. The Magic understand this. It’s why GM Otis Smith detonated a pretty good team last week and put the fate of the franchise in Gilbert Arenas’s thrice surgically repaired left knee and Hedo Turkoglu’s slowly fading game. Maybe they were good enough to beat Chicago or Miami with the old group. But not Boston. They knew it after the Celtics wiped the floor with them in last season’s conference finals and became even more convinced of it after watching Boston boost its frontcourt depth with the additions of Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erdin. The Celtics, you see, will be as involved in Howard’s future as any prospective suitor. Not because Boston is a threat to sign Howard; but by beating up on the Magic over the next two postseasons, they could effectively punch his ticket out of town. It’s what makes every game against the Celtics important, every win a reason to exhale. Saturday’s 86-78 win wasn’t artistic but it looks a heck of a lot better than a loss.”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “If you’ve paid any attention to Shaquille O’Neal since he joined the Boston Celtics, you know by now that he’s a pretty generous dude. That generosity will likely extend to writing a hefty check to the league office following comments he made after Boston’s 86-78 loss to Orlando on Christmas Day. O’Neal finished with two points in just under 13 minutes of action. After scoring his lone basket of the game, he fouled out just three seconds later. Needless to say, O’Neal had some choice words for the officiating. ‘I guess they came out to see number 26 today,’ O’Neal said. The only No. 26 on the floor Saturday was official Bob Delaney. ‘He (No. 26) was a great player out there today,’ O’Neal said.”
Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel – “Like I told the guys at the beginning of the season, we’ve got to be tough,’ Howard said. ‘Not just physically tough but mentally tough, especially against teams like Boston, who’s going to come at us from all different angles. They’re going to attack us mentally, they’re going to attack us physically and they’re going to try to punk us.’”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “The run was so long, Kevin Garnett felt like he had lost track of time at a craps table. ‘When you’ve been throwing the dice for this long, they’re going to bring the cooler over and sit him at your table, and he’s going to cool you off,’ the Celtics forward said, shaking his head. ‘We got the cooler today. Ah, we got the cooler today.’”
Rich Levine, CSNNE – “Even as recently as Wednesday night, Doc lamented how, despite all the wins, the Celtics weren’t improving. And as a result, neither were our expectations. It was the oddest feeling. The Celtics went a month without losing, but you couldn’t feel any better about their chances. There were games when they played great; games when they just played well enough to win; games when they didn’t even play well enough to win, but still managed to get the W. But regardless of how it happened, most of the time, those wins just left us feeling neutral. When we spoke of the streak, it was never, ‘Look out, NBA! The Celtics are on a rampage!’ It was ‘How the hell do they keep winning all these games?’ There was no rhyme or reason to how they were doing it. Sometimes the defense was great, but they also allowed more than 100 points in eight of 14. Sometimes the offense was clicking, but then it would disappear for long stretches. There were plenty of positives along the way. Of course, there were positives. And there certainly weren’t enough negatives to create any level of concern. But still, it was still strangely unsatisfying. You wanted to get feel better about it. But you just couldn’t. I guess that’s just life with the 2010-2011 Celtics.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “It was one of the Magic’s cornerstones: Jameer Nelson, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Sprinting down the floor and pulling up not far from the Boston bench, he knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:19 left that staggered the Celtics. They’d never recover. ‘Jameer willed that game for them,’ said Rivers. ‘He’s got the biggest heart on the team. He’s just a warrior and he does it all the time. Give him the credit. I thought he was phenomenal. I thought he was on the floor and he just kept pushing that team. You could see it. That’s what he does. A lot of people miss that in him.’”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “That’s why, when veterans such as Garnett and Paul Pierce [stats] tell the O’Neals to take a long-term view, the newcomers listen. It obviously helps that Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen have been healthy enough to carry the load. ‘Paul said the other day that it’s going to be scary in February,’ Shaq said. ‘We go to the bench and you’re going to see JO, Perk, Delonte (West), oh, my God. That’s the good thing about this organization — Ed (Lacerte, the trainer), B-Doo (Brian Doo, the strength and conditioning coach) have me working out twice a day. It’s a blessing in disguise.’ For this Celtics team, the oldest in the NBA, it’s also vital. ‘I don’t ever feel like I was rushed back any time I’ve been out,’ Allen said. ‘(But) I think Ed Lacerte is a trainer who, as much as we want guys out there, he’s not going to compromise guys’ health. As all trainers should, he has the hearts and the minds of the players in his best interests. The players have to be 100 percent on the floor. He knows what he’s dealing with, and he’s giving us the best opportunity and options to see if we can go through the rigors of a game. I think he truly cares, and in some organizations the trainer might be for the coach, or the trainer might be for the owner. But I’ve been on teams mostly where the trainers are for the players.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “The effects of seven weeks off were evident in Jermaine O’Neal’s return. He went 1 of 4 from the floor, but his biggest issue was timing, either not being ready for passes or bobbling them. ‘It looked and felt like it was my first game back in almost two months,’ O’Neal said. ‘Sometimes your mind is moving a little bit faster than your actual body. I left quite a few passes behind me that were very good passes. But you expect that. I’ve only had three practices, four practices. So I look forward to trying to build from it. It’s all about timing, it’s all about getting into the flow of things.’ O’Neal played just 10 minutes, and Rivers could sense O’Neal’s attitude dipping. ‘You could see he was kind of down,’ Rivers said.”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “Yesterday’s 86-78 loss at the Magic stands as Exhibit A. The Celtics [team stats] are in a struggle to find their offensive flow without Rajon Rondo [stats]. That doesn’t change Doc Rivers’ plan for the point guard, who is recovering from a sprained left ankle. ‘Rondo is still going to be out until he’s 100 percent,’ said the Celtics coach, who a day earlier had said Rondo would probably miss more time than the two-week timeframe that had originally been set. ‘I’m not going to push him back. We’re not going to push anyone back.’ The Celtics’ current trouble, according to Rivers, goes deeper than Rondo’s absence. ‘It’s not just Rajon, and that’s the point you guys miss,’ Rivers said. ‘It’s Delonte (West) and Rajon. It’s more than just Rondo. We always thought we could lose one of those three guards. We knew it was going to be very difficult if we lost two of them.’”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “So if Shaq is going to stay the same, soak up fouls and give the bench a 300-pound cheerleader, then Perkins needs to come back faster than expected or Jermaine O’Neal can’t take several weeks to blend into the system. Yesterday was his eighth game and it’s difficult to determine whether Jermaine O’Neal can make a significant contribution. He wants to be more involved in the offense, but coach Doc Rivers made it clear in training camp that they don’t need O’Neal reliving his glory days. In 10 minutes against the Magic, he missed three shots and committed four fouls. Davis, indeed, is the Celtics’ most productive and reliable center and that’s a discouraging sign for Ainge and Rivers. The O’Neals have to respond with better defense, more rebounding, and savvier play. Shaquille O’Neal can’t stand there with his hands raised and chest bump an opponent driving to the basket and expect to draw a charge. And standing there with that “Who me?’’ look isn’t exactly reminiscent of the acting of Sir Laurence Olivier. Somehow, Shaquille has to swallow his pride and understand his importance to the depth of this team.”
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