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Kendrick Perkins Return Just What the Doc Ordered

Kendrick Perkins goes up against J.J. Hickson in his first game back from knee surgery. Perkins played well and looked as if he hasn't missed a beat. He finished with seven points and six rebounds off the bench. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

A little “Perk” from everyone. On the night when Kendrick Perkins made his season debut, the Boston Celtics came away with the 112-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Perkins made his much anticipated debut Tuesday night after going down in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season with an ACL injury.

Perkins wasn’t the only one contributing for the Celtics, but he did finish with seven points (3-for-5 shooting), six rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes coming off the bench. The Celtics had helped from everyone on the team as seven different players scored in double figures and nine with at least one assist. All ten players scored at least once in the game. With the win, the Celtics improved to 34-10 for the season and 22-3 at home.

After blowing a 16-point lead against the Washington Wizards Saturday night, this was a big win for Boston as the team really needs to start beating some of the worst teams in the league. The Cavaliers did pull off a win earlier in the year at home against the Celtics, but since the start of the season the Cavs have lost 27-of-28 and 18 in a row to put them in dead last in the NBA in wins. They are now 8-37 on the year.

Celtics’ Head Coach Doc Rivers knew that the team had to play better and stay focused in this game, especially when his team is favored to win.

“It’s been a terrific season so far, but in that terrific season we’ve had some bad losses, too,” Rivers said. “Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500 and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games.”

Player of the Game

Celtics

I would give it to Perkins because he did play a major role in his first game back, but Paul Pierce got things going for this team early and often. Pierce only played 24 minutes, but that was all he needed in order to play an impact. He scored a game-high 24 points off 8-of-15 shooting (2-for-5 from 3-point), four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Pierce always seems to play well against Cleveland and Tuesday night was no different, he just came out shooting and it really got things going for Boston.

Cavaliers

The Cavs were also very well-rounded in terms of scoring, but J.J. Hickson stood out as far as play went. He actually didn’t start, but he logged 24 minutes while putting up 12 points (6-for-10 shooting) while grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds. He also added five assists and four blocked shots. He has really stepped up this season but he’s going to have to do more if he wants to be the future star of this team.

What Worked

  • Distributing the ball. Simple as that. When you pass the ball good things are going to happen. For the Celtics, 29 assists were handed out on the 42 shots the team made. Rajon Rondo led the team in assists (naturally) with 10, followed up by Ray Allen and Glen Davis each with four.The Celtics were also able to limit turnovers as they only had nine in the whole game, compared to 15 by the Cavaliers.
  • Another thing that went well was the 3-point shooting. Boston was able to shoot 11-for-24 from downtown for a percentage of 45.8%. The team was led by Nate Robinson and Allen with three apiece, while Pierce and Von Wafer each had two.
  • Steals also had a big role for the Celtics as they took the ball away eight times to the Cavs one steal. Rondo also led the team in steals with four.

What Went Wrong

  • Not much. This Celtics team is near flawless some nights and on Tuesday it was one of them. The one thing they could work on is free throws. The team went 17-for-25 from the line for a percentage of 68. Perkins tried to shake the cobwebs as he went 1-for-4 from the charity stripe. Allen and Pierce surprisingly missed one apiece.
  • The Celtics were also out-rebounded in the game, but it was only by two boards (45-to-43), so it’s not a big deal, but to allow the opponent to grab 45 rebounds is a lot.

Up Next

The road ahead doesn’t get too easy for the Celtics as they head out West for the next four games. The first stop is in Portland on Thursday when the C’s take on the 25-21 Trail Blazers. Before taking the surprise 96-81 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the Blazers had won five straight. Always a tough team at home (16-6 this season), Portland will again be without All-Star forward Brandon Roy and centers Marcus Camby and Greg Oden, who are all out due to knee surgeries.

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