Garnett, Perkins return to Celtics practice

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Garnett, Perkins return to Celtics practice

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics saw something in practice Sunday they haven't seen all season - their usual starting five.

The only thing that could have potentially overshadowed Kevin Garnett going through his first full practice since suffering a muscle strain in his lower right leg on Dec. 29 at Detroit was the news that Kendrick Perkins was also able to participate in the Celtics' full contact practice.

It was the first time since Game Six of the NBA Finals last June that the C's had their normal starting five - Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Garnett and Perkins - all on the floor at the same time. In Game Six last June against the Los Angeles Lakers, Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee.

Even though it has been several months since they were on the floor together, the chemistry was just as strong.

"You could just see it with our first unit," said coach Doc Rivers. "Today was the first time this year we had our real first unit on the floor. Today, offensively, it was another level. They could run anything they wanted. Everybody knew where everybody was at."

Perkins didn't waste much time getting back to doing the little things that have made him an important cog in the Celtics success.

During practice, Perkins hit teammate Marquis Daniels with a screen that forced Daniels to sit out the remainder of practice with a sore back. Daniels, who chuckled about it later, said the injury won't prevent him from playing against the Magic.

"I did hit him on the flat screen," said Perkins, also with a grin. "I told him, 'My bad.' He said it was a good pick, but I did catch him on the flat screen."

Perkins wasn't happy about the hit on his teammate. But he was happy about the fact that, after all these months sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, he was able to return and essentially do a number of the things he did prior to the injury.

While Perkins admits his timing is a little bit off, "it wasn't too bad. It was all right. I got a little winded, but I battled through it."

Rivers thought Perkins' practice was "phenomenal."

"Perk went through the whole practice," Rivers said. "Hell, he looked the best. I could make a case for playing him tomorrow, if anybody."

Before you run out and add Perkins to your fantasy league roster, however, Rivers was quick to add: "He will not play right away, obviously. First day for Perk live . . . phenomenal. He was great."

Perkins said he is targeting his return to be Feb. 4 against the Dallas Mavericks.

As for Garnett, being able to go through Sunday's practice bodes well for his chances of being on the floor Monday night against the Orlando Magic.

"I think Kevin will go tomorrow," Rivers said. "We went up and down a little harder on purpose, just to see how his body felt."

If Garnett feels good during the team's walkthrough prior to the game on Monday, he'll play.

But Rivers was quick to add the team will continue to err on the side of caution with all of their players, Garnett included.

"If there's anything not right about Garnett, he will not go," Rivers said.

Of course, not all the injury news for the Celtics was good on Sunday.

Shaquille O'Neal has an adductor strain in his right leg, and did not practice on Sunday. He is questionable for Monday's game.

The Celtics should know early this week whether Jermaine O'Neal plans to have surgery which could potentially keep him out for the rest of the season and some, if not all of the playoffs. O'Neal will head to New York to get a second opinion.

"I think we're leaning towards no surgery, obviously, if he wants to play," Rivers said. "But maybe someone can say he can do it and he can come back in four weeks, that would be different."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.