Last season, Kendrick Perkins was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder after winning an NBA championship and making two Finals appearances. Sixteen months later, he is returning to the Finals again, this time as a member of the Western Conference champions.
Perkins, the Thunders starting center, addressed the media on Monday in advance of Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
I think as far as the team goes, we have one of the hardest playoff schedules this year, having to go through the Dallas Mavericks, the (Los Angeles) Lakers, the (San Antonio) Spurs, and now having to face the Heat, he said. There really werent any free rides this year during the playoffs. I think we're battle tested, so I think we'll step up to the plate.
The Thunder trailed the Spurs 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals before coming back to win four straight, including the final two games on the road. While the Thunder have home court advantage in the championship series, they are proof themselves that it doesnt guarantee success.
I think one thing about us, we stay humble and just continue to work and play hard, he said. Like Coach always says, it's the first team to four. It's the first team to four wins that actually wins the series, so you can't walk in here and think we've got home court advantage so we're going to win the series. The home court advantage team lost in The Finals last year.
But after reaching the Finals in 2008 and 2010 as a member of the Celtics, Perkins knows firsthand the impact playing on his own turf can have on a series.
It's always good when you're at home, he said. I think our fans give us a lot of energy, a lot of confidence, including myself, let alone the other guys on the team. It gives myself a lot of confidence. We do have the best fans in the world.
Follow along with CSNNE.com during the NBA Finals for news and updates on Perkins.