Friday FT's: Do you recognize Perk?

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Friday FT's: Do you recognize Perk?

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there's still plenty of hoops to talk about.

The next time Kendrick Perkins returns to TD Garden, you may have to do a double-take. Before he was traded from the Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Perkins said he wanted to continue losing weight after rehabbing from a knee injury (last season he was listed at 610, 280 pounds). Watch just a few seconds of this video (music NSWF) and you can see a very noticeable difference in the big man.

Perkins also recently talked to Crave Online about the NBA lockout and getting back on the court. I just look to play as much ball as I can with other NBA players and at colleges, he said. But I know theres in shape and in NBA shape, so well have to get to it hard once were back in camp.

See Where Pierce Hones His Game
Paul Pierce has been holding his The Truth Strikes Again Celebrity Bowling Tournament for years, and now has he offered a glimpse into how he hones his skills. Pierce tweeted two videos of himself bowling . . . in his house. Pierce has a two-lane bowling alley complete with flat screen televisions and a 2008 championship banner for extra dcor.

On the same topic, Jermaine ONeal is reportedly selling his 7,500-square-foot Nevada home.

Early Hall of Fame Taste for KG
There is little question Kevin Garnett will be heading to the NBA Hall of Fame after his career as a basketball player is over, but this weekend he is getting an early taste of being an inductee. On Saturday, Garnett and Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be honored as members of the inaugural class of athletes in the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Garnett, who attended Farragut Career Academy, and Rivers, who went to Proviso East High School, will be honored as part of Boys Post-1960s class. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, November 5 at Memorial Stadium located on the University of Illinois campus. If you are in the Chicago area, visit IlliniHQ.com for ticket information.

Arroyo to Join Howard, Former Teammates in Exhibition Game
Carlos Arroyo has been representing Puerto Rican National Team in competition during the lockout. This month, he will take the court back in the States. Arroyo, who previously played over two seasons with the Orlando Magic, is one of 18 players who have reportedly committed to play in Dwight Howard's charity exhibition game on November 13 at the UCF Arena. According to the Orlando Sentinel, other participants include current and former Magic players who have made several trips to the TD Garden during the regular season and playoffs against the Celtics, including Vince Carter, Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, and Mike Miller. Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway is also on the list.

Former Celtic Pruitt Drafted by Skyforce
Former Celtic Gabe Pruitt was drafted by the Sioux Falls Skyforce with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA D-League Draft on Thursday night. Pruitt was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 32nd pick in 2007. He appeared in 62 games over two seasons in Boston, averaging 2.0 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 7.4 minutes per contest. He has also played in 56 D-League games. Pruitt retweeted a photo of his name being written on the Skyforce draft board.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@iambigbaby11: "Take the 51 man and let's play."

Celtics Birthdays of the Week
Blue Edwards, who played 31 games for the Celtics during the 1994-95 season, turned 46 on Halloween . . . Marcus Landry turned 26 the following day. He appeared in one game for the Cs in the 2009-10 season . . . Tom Thacker, who won a championship with the Celtics in 1968, turned 72 on November 2 . . . Mikki Moore celebrated his 36h birthday on November 4. Moore had two stints with the Celtics 3 games in 2002-03 and 24 appearances in 2008-09. Matt Wenstrom (1.6 ppg in 1993-94 season) turned 41 the same day.

This Week in Celtics History (The Debuts)
On November 1, 1996, Ray Allen made his NBA debut as a starter for the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 13 points (3-10 FG, 2-3 3PG) in the Bucks 111-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. On the same date 10 years later, Rajon Rondo made his NBA debut with the Celtics against Chris Paul and the New OrleansOklahoma City Hornets. Rondo played nearly 23 minutes off the bench, recording six points, four rebounds, and three assists . . . On November 2, 2007, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Allen played their first regular-season game together on the Celtics. The C's beat the Washington Wizards on Opening Night, 103-83. The "New Big Three" combined for 67 points, 29 rebounds, and 11 assists . . . Garnett made his NBA debut at 19 years old on November 3, 1995. He scored eight points (4-4 FG) in 16 minutes off the bench during the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-86 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Celtics-Bucks preview: C's preferred starting five making an impact

Celtics-Bucks preview: C's preferred starting five making an impact

BOSTON – It took Brad Stevens about eight minutes to realize his starters worked well together.

That’s how long they were on the floor to start Boston’s first preseason game back in October, opening the season with a 23-9 run against Philadelphia.

Now the rest of the NBA basketball world is starting to take notice with the Celtics (48-26) holding down the best record in the Eastern Conference with a chance to add to that tonight against the hard-charging Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks (38-36), coming off a 118-108 win at Charlotte on Tuesday, have won 12 of their last 15 games.

Boston is well aware that Milwaukee is playing some of its best basketball at the moment, led by all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

For the Celtics, that doesn’t matter.

Regardless of where they are in the Eastern Conference pecking order or who they play, the number one priority for them at this point is to continue playing good basketball.

“Every team in the NBA should want to be the best team in the NBA,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “We’re showing that we can be if we’re playing the right kind of basketball. That’s an accomplishment, to be first in the east. We understand that. But at the same time, we understand we could lose it (tonight against Milwaukee). We have to worry about (tonight’s) game and everything will take care of itself.”

Especially if Boston’s preferred starting five – Isaiah Thomas; Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson – are playing together.

Although they have only played 31 games together this season, they have reeled off an impressive 24-7 record which puts them among the best starting fives in the NBA this season.

“They really have complimented each other well,” Stevens said. “But you could see it. I remember the first exhibition game (against Philadelphia), we could all see it. Before that, the second unit had given them fits a little bit, the first couple of weeks of practice. But that subsided and I thought our guys, that starting unit has been pretty good.”

And it’s not just what they do during games, either.

Setting the tone in all phases of the game, on and off the court, is vital to both the success of the starting unit and the team as a whole.

“That’s part of it; part of us being leaders on the team,” Bradley said. “We have to bring it every single day. Shoot-around, being focused, film sessions. It’s our job to try to help the bench players focus just as much as we are. We’re a team. We all have to hold each other accountable. I feel like we’re doing a great job.”

But ultimately, every team and every unit within that team is judged on how their works contribute to winning.

And when it comes to the Celtics’ starting five, there’s little argument that they get the job done better than most of the NBA’s starting units.

So when asked why they have been so successful this season, Thomas delivered a straight-no-chaser response.

“Because we’re good; like we’re really good,” Thomas said. “That’s why it’s been so successful. When we are healthy, we know how to play with each other and guys are unselfish and know their roles. We have a really good starting lineup and when healthy, we play at a really high level. We have to continue to do that and end this season on a good note.”

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”