Jefferson also questions Celtics' trade of Perkins


Jefferson also questions Celtics' trade of Perkins

By RichLevine

SALT LAKE CITY Its been nearly four years since Al Jefferson was shipped to Minnesota as the centerpiece of the deal that landed Boston Kevin Garnett.

But when news broke last week that his old friend and teammate Kendrick Perkins had joined him on the list of former Celtics, Jefferson was just as shocked and confused as anyone.

I was like Wow, Jefferson, now with the Jazz, said before Monday nights game with Boston. I thought I was dreaming.

He said he hasnt spoken to Perkins yet, but will reach out to him once things calm down and Perk gets situated, but he was more than willing to talk about how he thinks the trade will affect the Celtics.

You can count him among the masses who question the move.

On the outside looking in, people always said Kevin was the face of that defense, Jefferson said. But when youre playing against them, Perk was the face of that defense. Perk was the goaltender. Perk was the one who made people afraid to go to that basket. You know, Im a scorer in this league, and I hated playing against him."

Although, for all they lost with Perk, Jefferson isnt completely sour on the deal. Hes actually pretty familiar with Nenad Krstic theyve faced off 16 times in their respective careers and considers him a formidable opponent.

Krstic is a great offensive player," said Jefferson, whos averaging 17.8 points and 9.1 rebounds a game for Utah. He's not up there with Perk on the defensive end, but hes a good defensive player. With him along with Kevin and everybody else, when Jermaine O'Neal gets back healthy and Shaq, theyre still going to be deep at the big spot. And also, guys cant lay off on Krstic like they did Perk because he can hit that jumper. He can score that ball, too.

Still, regardless of Krstics strengths, Jefferson doesnt think any can match what Perk provided for Boston.

They got something back good in return for Perk," said Jefferson, "but just as far as that team and how they were set up, Perk was just perfect.

That was Al Jefferson before the game. Relaxed, cordial, easygoing.

Once the real action started, the former Celtic looked every bit the monster that Celtics fans imagined hed some day become, putting up an impressive 28 points and 19 rebounds in Bostons five-point win.

Als developed into a hell of a player, man, said Paul Pierce. Offensively, the way hes rebounding, rounding out his game. Pretty soon were going to see him in a lot of All-Star games.

But on Monday, unfortunately for Jefferson and the Jazz, he did most of his damage in the first half when he scored 18 of his 29 and was eventually flustered by the Celtics adjustments.

We trapped him on the first time in the second half, on the first catch, and then we just mixed it up. We just wanted him to think, said Doc Rivers. We allowed him to catch it too deep in the first half. I didnt think we did the work early with our bigs. In the second half we denied the passes, and they had to use up clock to get it into him.

Jefferson scored only six points in the fourth quarter, as his team came up short down the stretch. But still, his coach was more than happy with the effort, and with the direction Jefferson continues to climb.

Tremendous effort, said Tyrone Corbin. Hes been, in the last couple weeks, hes really be focusing in on where to get the ball, where to get his shots, and putting pressure on guys to stop him at the basket. Hes doing a good job rebounding. Hes really focusing on defense . . . hes getting a lot better.

Rich can be reached at Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
It’s hunger.
It’s effort.
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
It makes you soft.
It makes you fat and happy.
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
Not anymore.
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.