By Jessica Camerato
Kendrick Perkins had been itching to get back on the court for months, and he finally made his season debut Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. As he edged closer and closer, his teammates anxiously awaited for his return from knee surgery. They shared with CSNNE.com what they have missed about their big man and what they most looked forward to playing alongside him.
Rajon Rondo has spent his entire career playing alongside Perkins. The close friends have developed their games together, and Rondo enjoys having the familiar face on the court with him.
I miss his communication on the pick-and-roll defense, really, Rondo told CSNNE.com. I think hes one of the best bigs, especially with pick-and-roll defense. When the guard comes off, Perk has a great wingspan and smothers the guards to get their shot off. I miss a lot of stuff about him, but thats kind of what sticks out to me.
Hes one of the best pick-setters as well. Like I said, just pick-and-roll D. The game is all pick and roll basically now, and when you have a big behind you like that, that makes your job a lot easier.
Shaquille ONeal was forced to enjoy Perkins return from the bench as he was sidelined with a sore right leg on Tuesday. The Celtics frontline has taken a bruising this season, between injuries to Perkins, Shaq, Jermaine ONeal, and Semih Erden, and ONeal is happy to have another big man in the paint.
I look forward to just having another physical body out there, he said. I know our frontline is going to be hard for teams to match up against, so were just looking forward to another big body to have out there, another veteran out there . . . I know hes a good guy. I know hes a hard worker. Coming from Texas, thats how they are.
Ray Allen doesnt mind when Perkins gets hard-headed. In fact, he is pleased to see his teammate be so steadfast about the fundamentals of basketball. And when hes on the court with an other intense Celtic, Allen is consistently taken aback by their chemistry.
Perk has a stubbornness about playing defense the right way, Allen said. Hes the one guy that hes so stubborn about locking his guy down that hes going in there and getting the job done. Hes going to get mad at you if you dont help him out defensively, if he goes and puts his hard work and somebody else gets a rebound or somebody else scores or somebodys matching his energy. You see guys in the league that get mad because somebody didnt pass him the ball; you see guys that get mad because somebody missed a shot. Perk gets mad on the defensive end and hes probably one of the few guys that gets that way.
He added, I know that with Kevin Garnett, those two guys they have such a rapport with each other defensively, they always know and they always have each others back. People talk about offense, but they havent seen chemistry like that with anybody defensively ever between big guys. You always know that were going get the rebound or were going to block out or were going to get a blocked shot.
Marquis Daniels is a defensive-minded player who appreciates when his teammates put forth the same effort. He is impressed by the little things Perkins does to help the Celtics get a win.
I like his intensity on the floor, defensively, and hearing him talking, Daniels said. An extra big body always helps . . . Its a good thing to have. He does a lot of the dirty work and doesnt mind doing it. On offense, he sets good solid screens and gets guys open.
Glen Davis, like Daniels, missed Perkins defensive tenacity this season. But it goes beyond that for Davis, who has been playing with Perkins since his rookie season.
He brings a lot as far as defense to our team, and thats what we need, Davis said. Just him as a person, in general, also. Hes an intelligent teammate, always looks out and tries to give you advice. When youve played with a guy for so long and you dont have him, you understand how much he means to your team. His personality, the way he approaches the game, he helps you. And thats what its about - helping, and thats what he does.
Luke Harangody is surrounded by veteran All-Stars and future Hall of Famers as a rookie on the Celtics. He watches this teammates intently during games, and has learned even more by watching Perkins work to get back into the action.
I can say hes taught me work ethic, said Harangody. Watching him come back from his injury is interesting to see how hard he works. Coming in late night, coming in during the day, its motivating. Its huge for me to see that because a season like this, Ive learned you could easily fall into a little lull, saying I dont need to get shots up today. I dont need to get in the weight room. But on this team, you do as much as possible because thats the way its been set for the last three years.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba