The Celtics’ 109-96 win over the Lakers on Sunday was a bittersweet reminder of what could have been (and in many people’s opinions what would have been) in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals if starting center Kendrick Perkins had not been sidelined due to the devastating knee injury he suffered in Game 6. LA killed Boston on the glass in Game 7, grabbing 23 offensive rebounds. Without Perkins, the Celtics lost the rebounding battle and, ultimately, the championship as a result.
The Grizzlies drafted Perkins straight out of high school with their 27th overall pick in 2003, but immediately dealt him to the Celtics. Now in his eighth NBA season, the 26-year-old vet has developed into one of the league’s best low-post defenders and a strong rebounder. During the 2008-09 season, Perkins averaged 8.1 rebounds per game, the best season average of his career.
After undergoing ACL surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation, Perkins rejoined the Celtics’ active roster four games back. He put up 7 points and pulled down 6 rebounds in his season debut against the Cavs, following up with 10 points and 9 rebounds against the Blazers. With his sturdy, wide build and long arms, Perkins gives the Celtics a solid interior presence. Tough as nails, he sticks his nose in it and takes the punishment. The return of this beloved big to the C’s lineup is key if they hope to make another championship run in the playoffs.
Though Perkins averaged 10.1 ppg last season, he’s not a consistent scorer. He’ll get some points off of offensive rebounds, in transition, by getting to the foul line and by hitting the occasional medium-range jump shot. But Perk will boost your rebounds and get you a couple blocks as his minutes steadily increase. Tonight the kings of the Eastern Conference head West to face the Sacramento Kings in their first of three games this week.