Garnett stands to face most pressure without Perkins

191544.jpg

Garnett stands to face most pressure without Perkins

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES There are varying degrees of disappointment felt now by anyone who watched or had the privilege of playing with Kendrick Perkins, who may be the nicest mean-muggin' dude to ever play the game.

Fans, as well as his Boston Celtics teammates, are clearly bummed about Perkins being traded to Oklahoma City.

But y'all know if Jeff Green comes in here, puts up big numbers and we're rockin' down Causeway Street in June with Banner 18, all will be forgiven.

There have been questions raised about how Perkins' departure will impact team chemistry.

No worries, folks.

These guys are too talented and too motivated to allow something like that to become an issue.

No, it's not team chemistry you need to worry about.

It's Kevin Garnett.

When you look at all the players who will be impacted by Perkins being traded to Oklahoma City, no one will feel this more than Garnett.

Garnett was a great defender before he arrived in Boston.

Perkins' presence allowed him to be even better.

You think it was just a coincidence that the first year KG played with an above-average defensive big man like Perkins, he just so happened to win the league's Defensive Player of the Year award for the first time, that same year?

Even with Perkins, Garnett's plate defensively is pretty stacked.

Now that he's gone, it takes on buffet-esque proportions.

The issue isn't whether Garnett can handle the added responsibilities.

The bigger concern is how much will they take out of him heading into the playoffs.

Boston did a wonderful job last season of managing Garnett's minutes, and essentially unleashing a healthy, ready to kick ass KG on a bunch of unsuspecting wannabe title contenders.

The C's won't have the luxury of limiting Garnett like they did a year ago.

Last season's squad was talented enough to win every playoff series, with or without home court advantage.

They knew this, and so did the rest of the league.

Just about every contender from a year ago, has made tremendous strides to where home court advantage is expected to become a major difference-maker in who moves on throughout the postseason.

Miami. Chicago. Even the Orlando Magic.

All three are good enough to knock off the Celtics in a best-of-seven series, which is why home court advantage throughout the playoffs is valued so highly by all teams in the East this season.

Now replacing Perkins in the starting lineup will be the man who held it down while Perkins was out recovering from his right knee injury, Shaquille O'Neal.

That's a pretty good trade off, just as long as O'Neal can stay healthy.

We're talking about Shaquille, but we might as well be talking about Jermaine, too.

So far, Boston cornering the NBA market on O'Neals hasn't been quite the investment we thought it would be.

Injuries have limited them to a combined 53 games this season, which has put even more pressure on the Celtics' healthy big men to perform.

But there's more to performing than simply putting up numbers.

Big men have to establish a certain presence around the basket, a certain toughness that gives opponents second thoughts about attacking the rim.

Perkins delivered that, daily.

Now it's on KG to do the same.

Garnett is considered one of the NBA's biggest trash talkers, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who sees him as one of the league's tough guys.

On this Celtics team, he didn't need to be that guy, not with Perkins around.

But now that the resident enforcer is no longer around, Garnett will clearly be the one looked to as the protector of not only the paint but also his people in Green when others try to rough them up.

These are all things that you can't ignore when you think about the impact of this trade.

But it's done, and there's no turning back from it now.

The disappointment that losing Perkins has brought on, that will subside soon as Celtics Nation prepares to welcome its two newest members.

But there's no mistaking that Perkins' departure will impact this team in more ways than you can imagine.

And nobody will feel this more than Kevin Garnett.

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Raptors in Toronto. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: C's need to start defending top-four spot in East

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- On Friday night, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan absolutely torched the Boston Celtics. The game before that, it was Chicago’s Jimmy Butler giving the Celtics major fits with a barrage of baskets. 

Both were All-Star starters this year, the kind of lofty status that helps explain how the Celtics were so defensively-challenged in their efforts in limiting them.

Detroit doesn’t have a bona fide high-scoring perimeter star like those other teams, but don’t think for a minute that tonight’s game will be a breeze for the Celtics. Boston (37-21) comes in having lost two in a row to Chicago and Toronto, respectively. The Raptors loss was especially painful because it assured the Raptors would get the higher seed in the playoffs if these two teams finished with an identical record. 

Boston hopes to secure an edge over the Pistons tonight with a victory that will give them the season series, three games to one. While it may seem a bit early to get too caught up in tie-breakers and their importance, the last thing Boston wants is to finish the regular season tied with one or more teams, and wind up with the lower seed because they lost the head-to-head series. 

“You hear people say every game counts; it’s true,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We need to win as many games as we can because you never know which game could be the difference between having home court or not.”

If Boston continues to find ways to win and finish with a tie-free, top-four finish in the East, they will begin the playoffs at the TD Garden for the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Meanwhile the Pistons are currently eighth in the East and, like the Celtics, they too opted to stand pat at the trade deadline. And like Boston, they are looking for growth from within as they try to make their way up the Eastern Conference standings. 

“We’re not real happy with how we’ve played up to this point overall,” said Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach. “But we still have a young group. As much as you would like the progress to be steadily uphill, it’s not always. That doesn’t mean you lose faith in your guys. At the end of the day, we ended up standing pat, which is pretty much what we expected to do.”

One of Boston’s biggest concerns coming into the game will be rebounding. It was among the many factors contributing to Boston’s loss on Friday. But as much as execution at both ends of the floor will be a factor, effort will be just as vital if not more, to the success of the Celtics in the playoffs. There were plenty of reasons as to why Boston lost on Friday night, with effort being near the top of the list. 

“They played harder than us,” said Celtics forward Jae Crowder. 

And that was surprising when you consider what was at stake – a chance to push their lead over Toronto to five games with a couple dozen to go.

Rookie forward Jaylen Brown has heard all the reasons and explanations as to why the Celtics have hit a mini-hiccup following back-to-back losses. And he has also heard how Boston blew a golden opportunity to beat Toronto with Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry still out. 

“We didn’t have one of our key guys, either,” said Brown, referring to Avery Bradley still being out with a foot injury. So it’s basketball at the end of the day. It doesn’t’ matter who is on the floor. You have to do your job; we just have to do our job.”