With the Oklahoma City Thunder on a five game winning streak, and looking very dangerous after defeating both the Wizards and the Heat on the road by a combined 38 points since Perk’s OKC debut on Monday, it is not inconceivable that this could be the year that Perkins helps Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant bring the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals. While the West is undeniably the better conference, and is currently stacked with elite playoff-bound teams, the acquisition of Perkins has addressed the Thunder’s most glaring flaw in their lack of size down low.
Perkins will continue to be a difference maker on his new team just like he was in Boston, and despite his lack of eye-popping individual numbers, his physicality, tough defense, and huge presence in the paint makes this young, athletic, and extremely talented team much more dangerous in a playoff series than before. Furthermore, the age of the Western Conference leading Spurs is finally starting to show, and the Dallas Mavericks seek to continue their legacy of collapsing early on in the playoffs, which leaves the always dangerous Lakers and the surging Thunder as potential Western Conference finalists.
And when I say surging, I mean “Serge-ing.” Perkins makes this team significantly more capable of dominating a playoff series, and takes the pressure off big man dunk extraordinaire Serge Ibaka of being the “big guy” in the paint. Ibaka can now revert back to playing his game as an explosive asset to this already very explosive team, without giving up the size advantage to opposing big men down low. As a result, Ibaka’s role as a help defender has also increased, and he has picked up 11 blocks in the past two games since Perk’s return. K.D. and the Thunder were already capable of scoring in bunches and dominating on the offensive end, but they now have the size and athleticism to dominate on the defensive end as well, as they held Miami to just 85 points last night. Perkins truly is a difference maker, and his defensive presence will continue to benefit the Thunder just like it did with Boston. So… what if the Celtics had to face him in the NBA Finals?
While the trade almost certainly increased OKC’s chances of making a run to the finals while simultaneously harming Boston’s, a Celtics vs. Thunder finals is still entirely possible as long as the Celtics can pick up their play in April the way they did last postseason. It would be an emotional moment, seeing Perk fifteen pounds lighter and in his blue Thunder uniform taking on Shaq and his former team, and he would likely be more motivated than anybody else to come away with another ring. Don’t forget about little man Nate Robinson either, whose energy and scoring ability make him a solid fit for OKC’s explosive and athletic offense. Nevertheless, we won’t get to see Perk or Nate playing against the Celtics this season unless they do face off in the finals, and by adding a big man with as much presence and dedication as Perkins has, this could potentially be a big year for Oklahoma City. Until then, we should keep up the support for Nenad Krstic, and keep cheering for Big Perk.