Pace: 95 possessions (average)
Offensive Efficiency: 117.9 (super high)
Defensive Efficiency: 100 points/100 possessions (not up to standards)
When Spain won the World Cup, Perk was rehabbing. When Tom Bosley died, Perk was rehabbing. When the Chilean miners were rescued, Perk rehabbed through happy tears.
And now, more than six months after his injury, Perk is back. He looks great, too. Thinner, right? Seems like the folds on the back of his neck have receded a little bit.
Although maybe I’m just making mental comparisons to some of the players who filled in for Perk in his absence, one of whom was sitting courtside in a robe.
So what did we get out of Kendrick Perkins tonight? Anything unusual? Nope, and that’s a good thing. 60% shooting in a low-usage game, a couple drawn fouls and bricked free throws, and 20% of the available rebounds on the court. No evidence that he’s lost any strength or speed, or that he was experiencing any discomfort. You can see what Doc saw in practice that made him feel okay about moving Perk’s timetable up. The only difference I could see is that Perk hates water now.
But what a pleasure to see that guy on D again. Rising with his arms straight up for the block, boxing fools out, showing on every pick-and-roll…Perk actually showed a little too much a couple times, leaving his man under the rim to go out and defend point guards one-on-one.
But he was nervous. Despite his refusal to shift his scowl out of position, he really dug that standing ovation. How do we know? He tried to get a technical on purpose in the third quarter, “to show that I was back.” He even took a few menacing steps toward the ref, which normally terrifies them into pulling the trigger. But he didn’t get it! You had to feel sorry for Perk there. Guy has to watch in envy all year as much smaller, less intimidating players get T’d up for nothing, and then when he tries to get a celebratory technical in his first game back he can’t buy one. The crowd reaction would have been huge. This stupid league.
THE ACTUAL GAME
I mean, yes, the Celtics occasionally play down to bad teams, but they can only play down so far. When they lost to the Cavs back in Game 2 of the season, Cleveland had its two best players on the floor and J.J. Hickson hadn’t lost his will to live. Now with Varejao and Mo Gotti out, this is just a team prisoners biding their time until their release. Byron Scott and Antawn Jamison look like they’ve totally separated themselves from the reality in front of them, just basically waiting for it all to be over. Reminds me of Avon Barksdale on prison: “Get your mind right, you only do two days: the day you go in, and the day you come out.”
Poetically, the Cavs matched the Celtics losing streak of four years ago at 18 games tonight. They actually had a lead with not long to go in the first quarter, but then they stopped defending the perimeter and everyone could relax. The 68% the C’s shot from three tonight (17 total) were more than the difference in this game. Six of them came from Paul Pierce on seven attempts.
Rondo leaned unusually hard on his long jumper tonight: 6 of his 8 attempts were from 15 or farther, but he made 4 of them, all pretty stylishly. I have no real explanation for why he only came out with 3.5 minutes to go in the 4th in a blowout game. Some have suggested that Doc wanted him in to get Perkins some touches, but Perkins came out 7 minutes before Rondo did in the fourth. In any case, it doesn’t matter much because Rondo accumulated one stat in those seven minutes (a rebound) and basically did nothing but supervise the running out of the clock.
I’m encouraged by Semih’s trajectory, specifically the consistency of it. We haven’t really seen him lose any of the improvements he’s shown in his game over the last few weeks. He barely saw the ball on offense tonight, but he sucked up a pretty huge percentage of the rebounds available to him and he’s increasingly active on D, even working close to the arc occasionally. He also managed to take a charge with a huge amount of swag tonight.
I love it. When he hears that whistle, his job is done and it’s time to get comfy. With Semih’s performance tonight, do we even need Kendrick Perkins?
(Yes. Yes we do.)