Kendrick Perkins thinks Celtics must do one thing to be an NBA Finals lock

Nick Friar
March 06, 2020 - 6:15 am
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Kendrick Perkins could not be more in on this year’s Celtics team.

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Last week, the ex-Celtics center put Jayson Tatum is in the 2020 MVP conversation. Now he is convinced the Celtics will make the NBA Finals if they take care of business in the regular season.

“If Boston gets the second seed, they’re going to the Eastern Conference Finals and they’re going to the (NBA) Finals,” the Radio.com NBA insider said on Dale and Keefe on Thursday. “Boston has to get the second seed. If they get the second seed, lock them into the (NBA) Finals.”

Now Perkins still admits the Celtics have their flaws — bench scoring being the top one. But he thinks that can become less of an issue if Brad Stevens staggers Boston’s top players’ minutes. Of course, the Celtics’ top players would all have to be healthy at the same time in order for Stevens to allocate minutes in such a way.

On the matter of Boston’s slew of injuries: Perkins thinks the Celtics’ health has had an impact on their defense. It’s why he’s not worried about Collin Sexton’s 41-point performance against the Celtics on Wednesday or Caris LeVert’s 51-point night in Boston on Tuesday.

“If you’re doing this against a healthy Celtics team, then OK,” Perkins said. “Jaylen Brown is one of my favorite players. I think he’s becoming — he’s right under Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard when you look at two-way players in this game. When you look at that Brooklyn Nets game, Gordon Hayward got hurt, Jaylen Brown got hurt, Jayson Tatum wasn’t available. Kemba was on a minutes restriction. Shuffling those different lineups in and stuff like that, people don’t understand: it affects the team.

“Even (Wednesday) night, going into Cleveland, if Jaylen Brown was healthy, Collin Sexton has been playing great basketball but Jaylen Brown would have shut that water off. It wouldn’t have even been a debate. But see what happened is Kemba didn’t play last night, so Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart had to carry a bigger load offensively. No Gordon Hayward, so you have to carry a bigger load offensively. So you can’t really have so much energy on the defensive end. Now, if you put Kemba — just add Kemba to last night’s game – and now you’re able to say, “Marcus, here you go. Go shut Collin Sexton down.’ He’s able to do that. But Marcus had to do more offensively. Probably not score a lot of points, but he had to do more (with) initiating offense. He had to do more of the playmaking, and that takes a toll. But, when healthy, oh man, I’ll take the Celtics any day of the week.”