They’re the faces of this budding rivalry.
Without them, Thunder-Grizzlies is just another matchup in these Western Conference playoffs.
With them, this series balloons into a bear fight.
They’re the men behind the physical play and the short tempers and the unforgettable quotes.
“I don’t bluff.”
“I’ll beat yo’ (expletive).”
“I’ll meet you by the bus!”
Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph are what make the third postseason installment of Thunder-Grizzles must-see TV.
Everything from their low-post battles to their tongue lashings toward each other has colored the complexion of this series.
And nothing figures to be different in 2014.
“He loves it,” Thunder forward Serge Ibaka said of Perkins.
Ibaka called physical play Perk’s “swag,” using it to redefine the term role.
“He knows that’s what he does,” Ibaka said.
“We are a team where everybody does his job. When it’s time to score points, they know we got Kevin (Durant). When it comes to speed, Russell (Westbrook’s) got his swag. I got my arts. I’m blocking shots. I got something I love to do. I call it art because I love to block shots.”
“He loves to body in the post. That’s his swag,” Ibaka said. “Sometimes we play a team where my guy is more of a post-up player and he’s going to tell me ‘let’s switch’ because that’s something he loves to do. That’s something that gets him going in the game.”
With the Grizzlies bringing Randolph and a healthy Marc Gasol into the series, Perkins and Ibaka will split time trying to coral Memphis’ one-two punch. But Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Perkins will get the first crack at Randolph, which could provide plenty of fireworks right out of the gate.
Perkins is ready.
“Yeah, I get a little excited when the playoffs come around,” he said.
Especially this year. Against this team.
“I get a chance to bounce back personally off that playoff series I had last year,” Perk added.