BOSTON — Imagine the fan reaction Friday in TD Garden if former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins crouched down and started defending close friend and ex-teammate Rajon Rondo in the backcourt.
Several times this season the 6-foot-10, 262-pound Perkins has defended the Thunder's opposing point guard.
He does this to temporarily disrupt the other team's offense, which presumably hasn't spent much time prepping for Perkins defending the point.
“Get them out of their rhythm,” Perkins explained.
In addition to the shock value, Perkins does this to ignite his internal fire.
“I kind of get going. I get excited about doing that,” Perkins admitted. “(Thunder assistant) Coach (Maurice) Cheeks always is messing with me saying, ‘You're a big man who always wanted to be a guard your whole life, right?' I do get excited because it's a challenge to get down and slide and get myself going a little bit.”
Alas, don't expect to see Perkins challenging Rondo in Friday's 6:30 p.m. contest between the Thunder (9-3) and Celtics (6-6).
Perkins uses this ploy against scoring point guards, not those who prioritize passing. No one delivers the ball more frequently than Rondo, who has 10-plus assists in 35 straight games, which stands third on the NBA's all-time list behind Magic Johnson (46) and John Stockton (37).
“I really don't plan on doing it (against Rondo),” Perkins said. “You've got to pick and choose. Guards who try to be facilitators and try to look to pass first are the one you've got to lay back off of, but the scoring guards are the ones you kind of pick up because then you kind of take away from their offense because it becomes an individual or iso game.”
It's Perkins who decides when to take on the opposing point guard. He often does this after scoring at the other end to keep his adrenaline pumping.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn't sic one of the league's best post defenders on an opposing point guard just for grins and giggles, although it often results in both. Brooks allows this to occur because of Perkins' capabilities.
“Perk wants to guard smalls now,” Brooks said with a smile. “Perk is good at it. Perk loves doing it. He has the toughness to do it and he has the mentality if he gets scored on it's not going to ruin his game. He's going to come back the next play and try to stop the guy.”
What makes Perkins such an effective defender, in addition to a nasty disposition, is his lateral movement. Perkins slides side-to-side very quickly for a big man, and that's his basic goal while defending on the perimeter.
If Perkins can make the point guard dribble and change direction, and if he can obstruct a guard's normally unobstructed view to make a pass, the more Perkins is able to interrupt the natural flow of the opposing offense.
“If their point guard has the ball the whole 24 seconds (of the shot clock), it's not good (for them),” Brooks said. “It's not good when we do it and it's not good when other teams do it. ... You try to disrupt their flow. It's just to throw a curveball at the other team, to see if they bite and change what they do offensively.”
Thunder at Boston Celtics
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: TD Garden, Boston
TV: FSOK (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 416, U-verse 754/HD 1754); NBA TV (Cox 256/HD 726, DirecTV 216, Dish 156, U-verse 632/HD 1632)
Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640
Three things to know
* The Thunder has won three straight games at the TD Garden and is 4-4 all-time against the Boston Celtics.
* Former Thunder forward Jeff Green is averaging 21.8 minutes, 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in a backup role with Boston.
* Point guard Rajon Rondo has 10-plus assists in 35 straight games, the third-longest streak in NBA history.