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The Hoop Doctors

Eastern Conference Game 5: Perkins channels legend Bill Russell, Allen shoots the lights out

Kendrick Perkins, Ray Allen, Bill Russell, Game 5, NBA Playoffs

May 29th, 2008 – Dr. Dime

All year the media has been comparing this year’s “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen to the original Celtic “Big Three” of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. Well if you like to talk about historic comparisons, last night in the Eastern Conference Finals a Celtic player in the first half had a performance drawing comparisons to the greatest Celtic legend of all time, Mr. Bill Russell himself. No, that player was not Kevin Garnett; it was surprisingly none other than the Celtics 23 year old center, Kendrick Perkins. Perkins was playing like a man possessed in last nights Game 5 contest of the Eastern Conference Finals.

All year we have seen Perkins play consistent defense, bang on the boards, and throw down some nice two-handers in the paint. Given the defensive attention required on the Celtics modern day “Big Three,” Perkins has filled his role to perfection all season long. However, last night was something different. Perkins was more aggressive than normal; he played with energy and confidence we had not seen to date. The man was a beast in the paint on both ends, and by just half time alone he had recorded 12pts, 13 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block. I am sure this was the type of play that the many scouts had in mind for Perkins when he was a highly touted high school player, coming in to the league at 18, choosing to bypass college for the pros.

Does this mean the Celtics all of a sudden have a “Big Four” as mentioned in some media reports after last nights game?

Of course not, don’t be ridiculous. What the Celtics have is an aggressive young ball player on the rise, who is hungry for a championship. Being surrounded by veteran’s without championship rings, Perkins clearly recognizes at a young age the importance of taking advantage of the limited opportunities an NBA player will have in his career to compete for a championship. If that translates into more games like that of last night for Perkins to ease the burden on the “Big Three” coming down the stretch, look out Pistons! A lot of credit has to be given to Perkins for his performance; although he was slowed a bit in the second half with foul trouble and finished with 18 pts, 16 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

Even though the Celtics had opened up an 18 point lead on the Pistons in the second half, you somehow knew the veteran heavy Detroit Pistons were going to make a significant run. And that they did in the 4th quarter. They came charging back so strong under the sharp shooting of Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and their young gun Rodney Stuckey that they were within 1 point of the Celtics in the closing minutes of the game.

However, Ray Allen picked the perfect game to break out of his series and a half long outside shooting slump by going 5 for 6 from downtown, with a couple of those coming in the clutch during the Pistons run. How big of an asset is it for the Celtics to have Ray Allen in the closing minutes of a game with his free throw shooting abilities. At over 90% accuracy at the line, Allen year in and year out ranks among the NBA elite at the line.

After each 3pter for the Pistons in the closing minutes when you assumed they would gain some ground, there was Ray Allen calmly stroking his outside shot, or appearing near robotic at the free throw line to keep the Pistons at bay. On the night Allen finished with 29 pts, on 9-15 shooting, 5-6 from beyond the arc, and 6-6 from behind the charity stripe. I guess the slump is over?

Boston won the game 106-102, to take a very critical 3-2 series lead heading back to Detroit for Game 6.

Player of the game? It was probably a tie between Perkins and Allen, but considering the number of POG awards Allen has probably received over his illustrious career, let’s give this one to Kendrick Perkins.

Bill Russell must be proud.

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