Celtics

Beyond the Arc: Kendrick Perkins

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Beyond the Arc: Kendrick Perkins

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

Kendrick Perkins had been itching to get back on the court for months, and he finally made his season debut Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. As he edged closer and closer, his teammates anxiously awaited for his return from knee surgery. They shared with CSNNE.com what they have missed about their big man and what they most looked forward to playing alongside him.

Rajon Rondo has spent his entire career playing alongside Perkins. The close friends have developed their games together, and Rondo enjoys having the familiar face on the court with him.

I miss his communication on the pick-and-roll defense, really, Rondo told CSNNE.com. I think hes one of the best bigs, especially with pick-and-roll defense. When the guard comes off, Perk has a great wingspan and smothers the guards to get their shot off. I miss a lot of stuff about him, but thats kind of what sticks out to me.

Hes one of the best pick-setters as well. Like I said, just pick-and-roll D. The game is all pick and roll basically now, and when you have a big behind you like that, that makes your job a lot easier.

Shaquille ONeal was forced to enjoy Perkins return from the bench as he was sidelined with a sore right leg on Tuesday. The Celtics frontline has taken a bruising this season, between injuries to Perkins, Shaq, Jermaine ONeal, and Semih Erden, and ONeal is happy to have another big man in the paint.

I look forward to just having another physical body out there, he said. I know our frontline is going to be hard for teams to match up against, so were just looking forward to another big body to have out there, another veteran out there . . . I know hes a good guy. I know hes a hard worker. Coming from Texas, thats how they are.

Ray Allen doesnt mind when Perkins gets hard-headed. In fact, he is pleased to see his teammate be so steadfast about the fundamentals of basketball. And when hes on the court with an other intense Celtic, Allen is consistently taken aback by their chemistry.

Perk has a stubbornness about playing defense the right way, Allen said. Hes the one guy that hes so stubborn about locking his guy down that hes going in there and getting the job done. Hes going to get mad at you if you dont help him out defensively, if he goes and puts his hard work and somebody else gets a rebound or somebody else scores or somebodys matching his energy. You see guys in the league that get mad because somebody didnt pass him the ball; you see guys that get mad because somebody missed a shot. Perk gets mad on the defensive end and hes probably one of the few guys that gets that way.

He added, I know that with Kevin Garnett, those two guys they have such a rapport with each other defensively, they always know and they always have each others back. People talk about offense, but they havent seen chemistry like that with anybody defensively ever between big guys. You always know that were going get the rebound or were going to block out or were going to get a blocked shot.

Marquis Daniels is a defensive-minded player who appreciates when his teammates put forth the same effort. He is impressed by the little things Perkins does to help the Celtics get a win.

I like his intensity on the floor, defensively, and hearing him talking, Daniels said. An extra big body always helps . . . Its a good thing to have. He does a lot of the dirty work and doesnt mind doing it. On offense, he sets good solid screens and gets guys open.

Glen Davis, like Daniels, missed Perkins defensive tenacity this season. But it goes beyond that for Davis, who has been playing with Perkins since his rookie season.

He brings a lot as far as defense to our team, and thats what we need, Davis said. Just him as a person, in general, also. Hes an intelligent teammate, always looks out and tries to give you advice. When youve played with a guy for so long and you dont have him, you understand how much he means to your team. His personality, the way he approaches the game, he helps you. And thats what its about - helping, and thats what he does.

Luke Harangody is surrounded by veteran All-Stars and future Hall of Famers as a rookie on the Celtics. He watches this teammates intently during games, and has learned even more by watching Perkins work to get back into the action.

I can say hes taught me work ethic, said Harangody. Watching him come back from his injury is interesting to see how hard he works. Coming in late night, coming in during the day, its motivating. Its huge for me to see that because a season like this, Ive learned you could easily fall into a little lull, saying I dont need to get shots up today. I dont need to get in the weight room. But on this team, you do as much as possible because thats the way its been set for the last three years.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).
 

Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

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Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are no different than the rest of us. They have a lot to be thankful for.
 
There’s the usual good health, family and friends. But they have a few more things to be thankful for, as well.
 
So as you take a brief time-out today from the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, here’s a look at five things the Celtics are thankful for this season.


 
KYRIE IRVING
 
The Celtics have had some solid players in recent years, but the addition of Kyrie Irving was a game-changer. He provides Boston with an unmistakable superstar who has a proven track record of success on all levels -- he's won an NBA championship and an Olympic Gold medal, and is also a four-time All-Star. Did I mention he’s just 25 years old?


 
AL HORFORD
 
His numbers will never adequately measure the impact Horford has had on the Celtics. The big plus with Horford was him simply agreeing to be a Celtic. For years this franchise has been built on the success of developing draft picks or trading for talented players. But rarely have they had the financial flexibility or, to be frank, the kind of appeal to free agents to go out and acquire a proven All-Star like Al Horford. His arrival has enhanced an already-established winning culture, one that has become a player on the free agency market ever since.


 
DANNY AINGE
 
Other than Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, it’s hard to imagine another front office executive having as good an offseason as Ainge. He rolled the dice to go down two spots in last June’s NBA draft, and wound up with arguably the most NBA-ready player (Jayson Tatum) among those selected in last June’s NBA draft. (Remember, the likely rookie-of-the-year Ben Simmons did not play last year after Philadelphia drafted him with the top overall pick in 2016.) The free-agent pickups of Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin have all had moments where they carried the team to victory. Even second-round picks like Semi Ojeleye and two-way players like Jabari Bird have contributed to wins this season. Fans may not like some of Ainge’s decisions in the moment but he deserves a lot of credit for the team we see today, one that has played at a level few envisioned they'd reach this quickly.


 
BRAD STEVENS
 
And to think, the Big Three (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford) Boston was planning to build around this season has played less than five minutes together. Stevens has been pushing all the right buttons, putting guys in unexpected positions to succeed with a cast that’s long on talent and well, well short on experience. Boston’s first win of the season came at Philadelphia, a game in which the Celtics played six different rookies. It’s not unusual for teams to use first-year players frequently, but for a team that was built to contend for a championship? That’s highly unusual. The biggest thing is despite the lack of experience on the floor, Stevens hasn’t allowed them to use that as a reason to fail. Instead, Stevens has had them lean heavily on film study and the wisdom of veterans, as well as empowered them to have a “next-man-up” mindset with one goal regardless of what they are tasked with doing: Get it done. No excuses.


 
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
 
Boston has spent most of this season atop the NBA standings, fueled in large part by a 15-game winning streak -- the longest of the Brad Stevens era and the fifth-longest ever by a Celtics team. But within that winning streak, there have been some noticeable areas of concern (i.e., bench scoring) that have made games more challenging. And that's what makes these Celtics so scary to the rest of the league. If they’re beating teams consistently now, how much better will they be when the offense catches up or, at a minimum, gains some ground on what has been an impressive stretch of play defensively? That’s why as good as this first full month of the season has been, there's reason to believe they’ll only get better. The Celtiheircs have seen  share of adversity. They've played without their All-Stars. They have fought back from double-digit deficits to emerge victorious. This is a young squad, but battle-tested already. Because of all that, they have a certain level of confidence that regardless of the situation, regardless of the score, they feel they will find a pathway to success. And that, Celtics Nation, is something to be thankful for.

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