The Celtics and Thunder have been heading in opposite directions lately.
Boston is officially in a slump. They've lost their last three of four games. All to opponents with records either under .500 or just above it. The Celtics are a team that's not only debilitated by injury but also one that's struggling to integrate many new faces into the mix since trading away five players at the trade deadline -- including fan favorite Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City.
Meanwhile, it's a great time to be a Thunder fan. While Boston's new additions are giving them some temporary (hopefully) problems, OKC just gladly welcomed someone new to their ranks last night against the Wizards -- Perkins. Perk has missed nine games due to a sprained left knee he suffered in Oakland, when he was still a member for the Boston Celtics.
Even without Perk, things have been going as well as they've gone all year for the Thunder. They've won their last seven of eight games and their 27-point blowout of the Wizards last night brought their win streak to four games, nearly matching their best streak of the season.
Of course, what grabs the attention of Celtics fans is the debut of Perkins. As a starter in his first game with Oklahoma, Perk played for 20-minutes -- grabbing nine rebounds and netting six points.
Thunder fans are excited about the potential Perkins' addition will bring to their defense. Royce Young of the Oklahoma City Thunder blog, Daily Thunder, offered some insight to how fans in Oklahoma are feeling about the former Boston fan favorite.
So let’s talk a second about Perkins and what he added. In the first five minutes he had pulled down five rebounds and set one illegal screen. His presence was unmistakable. He’s such a wide, strong body inside that he truly allows Ibaka to play that rover a bit more. Ibaka has been piling up the blocks lately with seven against Cleveland and now eight tonight, but both Ibaka and Perkins worked well in tandem defensively.
Obviously Perkins isn’t much of an offensive player and we knew that. No jumpshot, little to no post game and most anything he gets comes from an offensive rebound or easy at the rim. But that’s not what he’s here for. Perkins finished with six points, nine rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes and really looked good. It’s clear that he’s a difference maker on the defensive end and can plug the paint almost on his own. This was a good first run for him because it was low stress and gave him an opportunity to just kind of get a feel. Wednesday versus Miami will be a much better test.
After missing so much time due to injury he was obviously happy to be back on the court for the first time with his new team.
"I felt good," he said. "A little rusty in some spots, but it felt good to be out there contributing in a positive way...One thing we're going to keep striving on is doing it together. As long as we do it together we'll be all right. We have a lot of talented guys. I think as long as those guys come in focused, the sky's the limit for this team."
Right now, some in Celtic Nation are really missing Perkins.
In the recent slump, Celtics fans have been tortured watching opposing centers carve apart the interior of Boston's defense. The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan went off for 21 points against the C's last Wednedsay, despite averaging only seven a game this season. Then, Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes doubled his season average of 6.9 PPG and 5.6 RPG, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against Boston last Friday night. The Celtics held down an exhausted Milwaukee team Sunday but watched New Jersey's Brook Lopez score 20 points (his exact season average) the next night.
The Celtics will continue to battle in the East in their fight for Banner 18, but every Celtics fan wishes Perk the best over in the West.