Monday, January 16, 2012
Without Kendrick Perkins Patrolling The Paint, The Boston Celtics Don't Have A Soul
Tonight was Kendrick Perkins's first return to Boston since his trade last February to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It couldn't have gone much better for the former Celtics center since not only did he get plenty of love from the TD Garden crowd but the Thunder (12-2) held off the Celtics (4-8) for a 97-88 win.
For the record, that makes Boston exactly 24-24 since Perk left. During his time in Boston, they won 70% of their games.
I was saying to my buddy this weekend that the Celts are currently the easiest team to bet on in sports (maybe I should take my own advice). If they're playing a good team, bet against them and if they're playing an awful team, ride with the Green.
The numbers don't lie. Boston lost its fifth consecutive game, the longest streak in the Big Three era. They are now 0-7 against teams .500 or above this season. The Celtics haven't scored more than 90 points in their last six games (1-5). Finally, they've lost their last four games at home-somewhere that they used to own.
In fitting fashion since his game was never about numbers, Perkins put up seven points, five rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. For Boston, he was the most physical defender; an emotional player that was a consummate teammate and pro. With the Thunder now, you can already see the leadership he has brought to one of the NBA's top squads.
I hate the NBA but if I was ever brainwashed into getting the League Pass, since I'm pretty sure I'll never live in Oklahoma, it would be solely for the Thunder. With Kevin Durant (28 points, 7 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (26 points, 7 rebounds), they possess the most exciting duo in the league. Add in fine role players like Thabo Sefolosha (19 points, 4 steals), Serge Ibaka (4 blocks) and James Harden (5 points) and you can see why they are a logical choice to win a title in the next two or three years.
For the Celtics, it was another dysfunctional night for their main guys. Paul Pierce (24 points) shot well but Kevin Garnett (12 points, 12 rebounds) and particularly Ray Allen (6 points) were awful. Rajon Rondo (12 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) was ok but compared to Westbrook, he didn't do much. Jermaine O'Neal (12 points, 11 rebounds) had one of his best games as a Celtic but it was in a loss so you'll forget about it by tomorrow.
The Thunder were always in a comfortable spot and once it came down to the fourth quarter, they couldn't miss. It seemed like they hit every improbable shot. Boston's turnovers killed them as Oklahoma City was able to turn 19 Celtics turnovers into 24 points. On the flip side, the C's only converted the Thunder's 13 turnovers into two points. I don't know how that's possible.
After a brutal stretch of opponents, things ease up considerably for the Celtics as they face the Raptors, Suns and Wizards in their next three games. I expect Boston to win all three of those games but don't buy the hype if it happens. They've already proven they can beat bad teams; last time I checked, all those teams are hopeless. Toronto comes to the Garden on Wednesday night in a matchup that I wouldn't go to if I had free courtside seats.