The Celtics stormed out of the gates last night and made it clear in the first 8 minutes of the game that they're going to be pretty good this year.
KG looked like his same old self, minus a little bit of his explosion.
Pierce and Ray made some familiar looking strong plays on offense.
Rondo calmly set the offense and made a couple of plays on defense.
And Kendrick Perkins was moving a little more quickly than I remember.
Slim Perk was one of many hot topics in last night's live blog. And I've gotta say, I like what I see. He started the game riding a player from the elbow to the baseline without allowing him to get past him… and Perk ultimately forced the turnover. It was a kind of lateral movement that I didn't expect, and can be directly attributed to the lighter load.
Perk then made a block that even the guys on the broadcast thought might not have been possible last year. A player beat Garnett baseline and went under the hoop. Perk's momentum was going towards KG to help on a trap. But when the player showed up on the other side of the hoop, Perk quickly recovered, switch direction, and got his left hand over to make the block. It was a quick change of direction that I found impressive.
There are legitimate questions about whether Perk's lower body weight will cost him against stronger centers like Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal. I think that diminishes Perk's defensive ability. Perk didn't handle Dwight because he had 15 pounds that he doesn't have now. Perk handed Dwight because he had good position, kept a good base, and used Dwight's momentum against him to force him further away from the basket.
Sure, you need mass to handle someone else with mass. But it's not like Perkins lost a ton of muscle and is coming back looking like Mikki Moore. He's a 7 footer. Dropping some bodyfat is going to add up for a guy like that.
Perk still has plenty of muscle. And he's still got plenty of defensive ability. He's got enough to body up the big boys. And now he's got enough to keep up with the smaller boys that might invade his painted area.
Perk is quicker out there, and I think it's a very nice, unexpected development that's really going to help the Celtics this year.
Globe: To Perkins, sharing is caring | Celtics lose despite going to great lengths | Herald: Garnett passes first test | Celtics reserves no joke | Pierce assailant arrested in drug sweep | WEEI: Garnett's strong debut | ESPN: KG pain free, but tired after 1st game
Thanks to everyone for last night's live blog. We had a huge turnout. In fact, we had twice as many people for this live blog than we did for game one of the Magic series. We really appreciate the interest and the participation. It was a great time.
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