"Well I'm hoping I see a situation where I'm holding him back because that means he's ready," Rivers said. "I don't know, Perk is eager. You know Perk, he wants to play so bad. I understand that, but we have to be very careful with him, with his career. And we need him. The game we might need him the most might be Christmas Day. He defends so well with Dwight [Howard] one-on-one, and not having him will be interesting. In a sick way, I'm looking forward to that challenge."
Perk's claim to fame in the NBA is his ability to play Dwight straight up. Without him, they'll have to throw Shaq at Dwight for a while… but we all know that's not sustainable since Shaq rarely plays more than five minutes at a time.
So there will either have to be more help and doubling… which plays into Orlando's style… or whomever draws the assignment of guarding Dwight will be left on an island and the C's will just try to shut everyone else down.
Each has its merits. If you double Dwight you're banking on Orlando's team chemistry being off. You're hoping guys will be out of position or a step slow. If you single Dwight, then you basically say "go ahead and score your 35 on 15 dunks… We're holding the rest of these guys to 50." That sacrifices one guy on D… but you don't let a notorious Celtic-killer like Jason Richardson go off.
Doc's an interesting guy. It's almost like he's going to use this game as an experiment to see what will work in case Perk's not ready to go in the playoffs. Don't be shocked to see a little of both of the above and maybe some other stuff (zone?) mixed in. And with the C's holding a 3.5 game lead in the conference, I wouldn't be shocked if Doc figures he's got a tiny bit of wiggle room to try something new against a potential playoff opponent.
And why not? If Doc toys around with some things and ends up losing the game… but also ends up finding a little secret that he can tuck away for later… then it will be worth it down the road.