Pete May, ESPN Boston – “We all know how truly valuable Perk can be on this team with his defensive presence, shot-blocking ability and the occasional double-figure rebound game. He and Kevin Garnett form an excellent one-two punch anchoring the Celtics’ defense, and the team legitimately feels that the only way it will raise another flag is if the defense returns to somewhere near the heady level of 2007-08. Perk helps in that area. The one caveat in all this is that while Perkins may be medically cleared to play, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will see the old, snarling, physical presence. Celtics team physician Brian McKeon cautioned that it takes a player 18 months to really get over an injury like Perkins had. He will be six-plus months out from the surgery when he does return, so realism will have to trump expectations for a while.”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “‘He’s been working pretty well. We’ll see, I’m not sure,’ Rivers said Saturday of Perkins being available next week for the home game against the Mavericks. ‘He looks good in practice, I will say that. He’s running well. He’s working hard. I don’t know if I’ve seen him or any guy work as hard as he’s worked. He really wants to get back. He wants to get to playing. He knows it’s going to take time once you get on the floor. He’s doing the work.’ … ‘He knows our stuff so well, it’s amazing,’ Rivers said. ‘We’ve been good offensively this year, but when he’s in practice, we’ve been really good. Because we can run stuff we ran two years ago out of a [call] that he knows. Timing is so important and he gets all that. Yeah, he’ll be able to come back quicker because of that.’ … And there is extra incentive for Perkins to regain his status as one of the league’s top defensive centers. He is a free agent at season’s end and could garner a career-defining contract extension. If the Celtics allow him to hit the open market, he could be one of the most sought-after players under a new collective bargaining agreement. ‘I’m trying not to think about it,’ said the 26-year-old Perkins, who has played his entire career in Boston. ‘I always say, whatever happens, happens. Obviously I want to be here. I’ve been here for eight years. I ain’t trying to leave. Hopefully at the end of the year the Celtics still have plans on me being part of their future and we can just move from there.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “Goliath fears David. The Bostonians have counted victories over NBA overall leader San Antonio, Orlando and Oklahoma City. Twice they’ve taken the measure of Miami. But they’ve lost to the likes of Detroit, Toronto and the Wizards. They even fell to 8-35 Cleveland, but that was back at the start of the season before the Cavaliers understood how bad they are. The mighty Celts have been defeated by four of the five worst teams in the East. (And pipe down, New Jersey. You’ll get another chance in a few weeks.) Half their 10 losses have been to sub-.500 teams. The struggling, and thus fearsome, Cavs are in town tomorrow night.”
Jessica Camerato, CSNNE – “Leon Powe has played over 100 games at the TD Garden. This week, however, he won’t be able to add to that total. Powe, who played the first three years of his career in Boston, suffered a torn right meniscus earlier this month and will stay back in Cleveland to continue his rehab when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics on Tuesday. ‘I was disappointed,’ Powe told CSNNE.com. ‘I wanted to go out there [to Boston]. I haven’t seen some people, especially the fans, in a while. I wanted to go out there just to say hi to everybody and make sure they see my face.’ … ‘I’ve been watching them,’ he said. ‘I’m a basketball fan so I’ve been watching a lot of basketball. The guys out there, they’re still my guys. I still want them to do good, as long as they’re not playing against me and my team (laughs). But other than that, I don’t have anything against them. They’re my guys over there.’”
Greg Payne, ESPN Boston – “Their strong friendship, in some ways, should have been expected, given the similarities that existed between the two: Both were big men who play in the post, both were from the south (Perkins is from Texas, while Jefferson hails from Mississippi), and both entered the NBA straight out of high school in back-to-back years. The only glaring difference between the two appeared to be their respective games. Perkins was a hulking, physical defender whose offensive game still needed a decent amount of polishing. Jefferson, meanwhile, was an offensive stud, a natural scorer with an arsenal of slick post moves and a soft touch at his disposal, whose defense still left something to be desired. Apart, their respective games could not have been more different, yet when placed together, they forged a unique pairing along the front line for the Celtics – two young big men filled with potential, each boasting key strengths on opposite sides of the ball. It didn’t take long for the pair to realize they could actually learn from one another, and their contrasting games soon gave way to intense competition that ultimately brought them closer together.”
Greg Payne, ESPN Boston – “Maybe Shaquille O’Neal knew what was coming. After helping the Celtics to a closer-than-it-should-have-been 86-82 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, O’Neal spoke at length about the team’s struggles against weaker opponents. ‘[We] can’t keep playing with people,’ O’Neal said. ‘Great teams stay dominant at home, really beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, and stay above .500 on the road. We’re supposed to beat [the Pistons] every time, but not by three, not by five, but [by double digits]. We can’t keep playing with people. However, we’re still learning each other, we’re getting better every game. We just have to learn to put our foot on people’s necks and kill ‘em right away. We can’t keep playing with people.’”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “Pierce, 33, said he is leaning toward defending his 3-point shootout title at All-Star Weekend. Pierce entered the contest last season to prove to naysayers that he was a solid long-range shooter. And to further support his case is his career-best 42.7 percent shooting clip this season from beyond the arc. ‘I’m thinking about it,’ he said with a smile. ‘I guess I’ve got to represent back home.’ Teammate Ray Allen said Pierce has improved immensely on his long-range shooting. Pierce hit 2 of 4 3-pointers last night. ‘I think he’s more patient with his offense,’ said Allen, who also hit two 3-pointers to move to 25 behind Reggie Miller for career 3-pointers. ‘He kind of picks and chooses when to attack. So the one thing I try to focus on when I’m on the floor is I try to get him easier shots . . . Paul is one of those guys while he can score anywhere. He’s been that way his whole career. But now he’s piecing the game together. Very simple. Very efficient.’”
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