Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins discusses his defensive mentality for the team's series against the Spurs and defending the pick-and-roll.
This is a different series for you. No Andrew Bynum. How much does that change your defensive mentality?
Perkins: “It's kind of going back to the Dallas series, where I had to guard Dirk (Nowitzki). Still got a great low-post player (Tim Duncan). Probably not as strong as Andrew but very crafty. Future Hall of Famer, arguably the best power forward. So I've got my hands full. But I know this series, I've got to guard a whole lot more pick-and-rolls. I think they ran 36 pick-and-rolls with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. I gotta be ready to guard that.”
You guys struggled with pick-and-roll defense during the season. Has that gotten better in recent weeks?
Perkins: “I think we've got to make sure we stick to our elbows and boxes. Make sure our paint is packed. They averaged 48 points in the playoffs in the paint, out of 107 points. We've got to make sure we keep our paint compressed and get out to their 3-point shooters. Pick and roll is a team defense. Starts with the first two guys, point guard and center, stopping the pick-and-roll. But then we need everybody else behind it in a shell.”
Is the Thunder playing as well as it has all season?
Perkins: “I think so. Just keep doing the little things. Guys are coming together, not worrying about stats or who scored the points. Guys just trying to win. That's the biggest thing. We're sacrificing right now. We are playing pretty good. I still think we can take it to another level.”
You've been on an NBA championship team and another team that almost won another NBA title. Does this team feel like those Celtic teams?
Perkins: “Yes. Same kind of competitiveness. We've already got the talent. Seems like our mental is getting right at the right time. Guys are accepting and buying into what Coach Brooks is saying. We're doing a great job.”
What are some of the signs that you know this team is on the right path?
Perkins: “You can tell how guys are locked in in the film room. How guys are locked in as far as doing the scouting stuff. When we're going over their plays, guys are talking, saying they're going to be there for each other. ‘If you go here, I'll be here. You can feel it in the air. The communication and everything like that.”
The Thunder seems to have taken care of its rebounding problem from the regular season. Why?
Perkins: “You gotta do it. It's the playoffs now. It's the time when every guy gotta step his game up. Rebounding is a focus and a mental thing. Guys are knowing, we rebound, we win games.”
You guys seemed to wear the Lakers down.
Perkins: “We've got a pretty deep roster. We've got a nice bench. Those guys have to play 40 minutes, as far as their starters. We sent different bodies at 'em at different times. I think that was an effect on the game.”