LOS ANGELES - When Kendrick Perkins boarded the team bus to Wednesday's practice with a pair of crutches, reality set in for the Boston Celtics. They'd be facing Game 7 of the NBA Finals without their enforcer, the anchor of their defense and biggest defensive presence in the paint.
When Paul Pierce took to the podium before Wednesday's practice at Staples Center to address the loss of Perkins, Pierce said that the team knew after Tuesday game that they'd be facing Game 7 without their center. But rather than dwell on the loss, Pierce said the injury just means that someone else, anyone else, would have to step up if the Celtics are going to win their 18th World Championship.
Trainer Ed Lacerte checks on Perkins after he went down in a heap during the first quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Perkins is out for Game 7.
"We've got Big Baby, we've got Rasheed [Wallace], and if possible we've got Shelden Williams. We've got guys capable of coming in there," Pierce said. "All we ask is one game as hard as you can go for tomorrow. We have guys who can fill in and get the job done."
As for Perkins himself, he told the press he had a torn MCL and PCL in the right knee, but he has yet to have an MRI and according to Coach Doc Rivers, and there's no official diagnosis at this point or determination on whether or not surgery will be needed in the offseason. The only definite at this point is that he can't play in what would have been the biggest game of his career, and understandably, he's not taking it well.
"Physically I'm in pain. I hurt my knee pretty badly. I'm out for tomorrow, so there's nothing I can do about it," Perkins said when he met the media at the Staples Center Wednesday afternoon. But more than any physical pain that Perkins may be suffering, he was more inconsolable about the missed opportunity to help his team in Game 6 and Game 7.
"Game 7 of the Finals, Game 6 of the Finals, couldn't help your team," Perkins said. "Can't do nothing but sit on the side and encourage guys to play better and play well. I'll probably never get this opportunity again to even make it back to the Finals. Physically I'm doing better than I am mentally."
As the Celtics' leader, Rivers was staying upbeat about his team's chances, shorthanded or not. He said he had yet to decide who would start in Perkins' place. Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis are the obvious choices. Davis told reporters that the "Ticket Stub" would be back, while Wallace, when asked how the C's would make up for Perkins' absence, said simply, "play."
Meanwhile, Rivers got the message across that Game 7 is still an opportunity to win it all, despite the challenge of facing the contest without Perkins.
"You know, you can never take for granted a season, a game, and especially a Game 7 of a Finals," Rivers said. "You never know if and when you're going to be back in that position. And so when you get in that position, you want to take advantage of it."