Perkins is given a break
WALTHAM — Coming off six grueling games guarding Shaquille O’Neal, Celtics center Kendrick Perkins sat on the sidelines at the team’s practice facility yesterday, ice wrapped around both knees.
He missed the Celtics’ only practice before they start the Eastern Conference finals today against the Magic in Orlando, but coach Doc Rivers expects his best low-post defender to be ready come game time.
“His knee’s bothering him,’’ Rivers said. “He tried to go early and it started bothering him a lot. He wanted to go and I said, ‘I’m not going to need you tonight. You’re not going to help me today in practice. I need you tomorrow.’ So I just sat him down.’’
Perkins’s physical defense has given Orlando’s Dwight Howard fits in the past, and for that reason the seventh-year big man is considered one of the keys to the series for the Celtics.
“We’re going to ask him to do a lot of one-on-one guarding with Dwight Howard, because we can’t really come off the rest of these guys the way they shoot the ball on the perimeter and the way they’re swinging and driving,’’ said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “I think in the past Perk has played him pretty well and we’re going to ask him to do that again, especially coming off a tough series where he had to guard Shaquille O’Neal.’’
The Celtics have more depth in their frontcourt than they did a year ago, when Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe went down with injuries. They brought in Rasheed Wallace for situations like these.
“He’s equally as big, because you’ve got two guys that are capable of guarding Dwight Howard one-on-one,’’ Pierce said. “He’s going to be key, too, and, eventually, if Kevin has to guard him, then we’ve got another guy who can guard him one-on-one.’’
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.