After Celtics practice yesterday, Doc Rivers told reporters that he thought Kendrick Perkins was the best player on the team in Tuesday's lopsided win. Doc pointed to Perkins as being the key to getting Boston started on its 44-8 run in the second/third quarter,
"I thought his passes is what got everybody shots. Most of Baby's layups came off a Perk pass. A couple of the Ray shots and, again, I thought the biggest play of the game, when they were up four, and I had gotten on them three or four times in a row about making the next pass, Perkins threw that skip pass to Mike Finley for that 3. I just thought he played a great floor game yesterday"
Perk did have a great game Tuesday night, both on offense and defense, but it's hard not to mention Big Baby's performance too. He had a monster game, netting 23 points in 29 minutes. However, the tandem playing well on the same court this time of year shouldn't seem unfamiliar to Celtics fans.
In more ways than one, Garnett's absence brought back memories of last year's playoffs. Last year, with KG in a suit, Davis and Perk were putting up big stats. In the 2009 playoffs, Perkins totaled 37 blocks and an average of 11.6 rebounds a game. In two games this post-season, Perkins has 12 rebounds and 3 blocks - including a highlight worthy one on Carlos Arroyo Tuesday night (see bottom of page). In Game 2, Perkins had 13 points and 4 assists which, as Doc pointed out, were so key for Boston.
Baby was thrust into a similar role in Game 2 as he was during last year's playoffs - filling Garnett's shoes. Last year, he averaged 36 minutes and 15.8 points and he had that unforgettable game winning buzzer beater against Orlando (if you don't remember that one, see the bottom). Davis has definitely delivered so far this post-season. He's playing with the hustle and energy this team needed so badly coming out of a 3-7 skid at the end of the regular season. He was huge not only Tuesday night, but in Game 1 as well. That night he only scored 8 points but they were a major part of the run that brought Boston back from 14 down.
After strong contributions in the '09 playoffs, the performance of the duo unfortunately dropped off during the regular season. Perkins had tendinitis in his left knee and his game declined considerably since February. Baby was full of distractions (the broken thumb, telling a Pistons fan to suck his..) and only averaged 6.3 points for the regular season. However, given the evidence, the Baby and Perk we saw last year have hopefully reemerged to give the Celtics a needed spark.
Despite Baby and Perk's huge numbers in the post-season last year, the team came up short. Ultimately, there just wasn't enough man power on Boston to compete. Right now, the Celtics are playing with the same emotional fervor that got them as far as they did last year. If Baby and Perk can continue to show up big in the post-season and everyone stays healthy, the C's should not only be able to handle the Heat but Cleveland as well.