By Jessica Camerato
For the first time in years, the Boston Celtics have begun their season without their core starting five on the court.
Kendrick Perkins has been on the road to recovery ever since suffering a devastating right knee injury in Game Six of the NBA Finals and undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in July.
Perkins aims to play before the All-Star Break. In the meantime, his absence is felt as centers Jermaine and Shaquille O'Neal battle injuries of their own.
It's no secret Perkins is determined to get healthy and help the Celtics. As he fights his way back on to the court, here are four other things to know about his rehab:
Being injured doesn't keep Perkins away from the gym. In fact, he makes two trips a day.
"I'm at the gym twice a day," he said. "Three hours for practice, three hours when I come back at night. For practice, I get there at 11 a.m.. At night I get there about 10, leave at 1 in the morning, something like that. We've got 24-hour access, so we've got to get it in."
CAN'T GET ENOUGH
Perkins has made one of the most noticeable physical transformations on the Celtics over the years. After slimming down, he wants to maintain his conditioning while he rehabs.
"I do extra conditioning," he explained. "I don't think I can ever get too much conditioning, so I try to stay in the best shape possible. I work out with one of our strength coaches and we do different things every day -- exercise bike, elliptical, treadmill, stuff like that."
THE HARDEST PART
As grueling as rehab can be at times, it has been easier than Perkins expected. But the team-first big man didn't realize the most difficult part wouldn't be pain in his knee.
"It's been easier as far as physically," he said of the rehabilitation process. "Mentally it's harder, watching guys go at it and play basketball. It's tough watching the team doing what they do. So mentally, it's harder."
FINDING INSPIRATION IN FOXBORO
Perkins wants to do more than simply return to basketball. He looks to come back an even better player than before, and he's drawing inspiration from a fellow New England athlete who also suffered a similar injury.
"I'm just trying to come back better than ever. That's my goal," he said. "You try to come back like a Wes Welker (Patriots wide receiver). You try to come back harder, at least. Wes Welker, that's my motivation. For real."
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba