Garnett Perked Up By Center’s Return

WALTHAM - While Kendrick Perkins is happy to be back in action, Kevin Garnett may be happier, because he certainly didn't enjoy playing center in his stead and matching up against Eddy Curry on Monday night in New York.

Garnett

With Kendrick Perkins back on the floor, Kevin Garnett won't be forced to play center on the defensive end and end up in a mismatch that favors the opposition.
Peter Stringer / Celtics.com

"Horrible. Horrible," Garnett said of the experience. "But I'll do whatever Doc wants me to do. I've never been opposed to anything as long as I'm out there on the court. Hell, Eddy Curry was a battle. If you need me to play center I'll do that."

That said, Garnett would rather play with Perk in the paint, and to that end, he's prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure Perkins is ready to take the floor Friday night.

"I'm making sure Perk gets up early, and [checking] if he needs extra ice," said Garnett. "If I have to ice him myself..."

It appears Garnett can rest easy and leave the ice jobs to Ed Lacerte, at least for now. Perkins went through the entire practice Thursday without issue and according to Coach Doc Rivers, he'll be in the lineup Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Perkins sat out the last three exhibition games for precautionary reasons with soreness in his left hamstring, but noted that had this been the regular season, he'd likely have played in those contests.

"He went through the entire practice today and had no problems. I was just surprised that he could but he did," said Rivers, who expects to play his starters but added that he might adjust his lineup in the fourth quarter depending upon what the Cavaliers do with their regulars. Since the Cavs play in Toronto tonight, they may end up resting their starters in Boston Friday.

Rivers also noted that he didn't like playing without Perkins against the Knicks, because of the size they can put in their frontcourt forced the Garnett-Curry mismatch.

"If you catch a team with multiple bigs and you don't have your five, then that's a tough night for us because for our best defensive player and our best offensive player, he has a lot of work," Rivers said. "You could tell at the end of the [Knicks] game that [Garnett] didn't have a lot left."

Aside from getting to play his natural position when Perkins is in the lineup, Garnett enjoys playing alongside him and likes what the young big man brings to the table, things he first noticed as an opponent over the last few years.

"He has great hands, good IQ for the game and [he's] a great defensive player," Garnett said.

Garnett really only knew Perkins from playing against him twice a year, but he remembers those match-ups as "very intense". And now that they're teammates and he's gotten to know Perkins, Garnett is impressed with Perkins' worth ethic and preparation, qualities for which the two big men are both known.

"We bonded really fast. I expected me Paul and Ray to bond but Perk and I we have no choice," Garnett said. "We're the front line, so we're responsible for making sure that shots are blocked and getting rebounds. We're trying to protect that rim and protect that paint. He and I have to be on the same page."

Roster Down to 14

The Celtics made a pair of cuts before Thursday's practice, releasing Jackie Manuel and Dahntay Jones and leaving the roster at 14.

"We wanted to make sure that if someone shakes loose or in the middle of the year we wanted to make a move that we'd have the room to do it," said Rivers.

Meanwhile, Brandon Wallace can rest easy. Rivers said the team is finished with cuts and will head into the season as-is.

"You never want to release guys but I thought we had to get down to the numbers that we're going to start the season with. That was important for me," Rivers said. "The Dahntay decision was the toughest because he's a veteran. Right now, he could probably help our team more. Maybe later, Brandon can. He has a chance to develop into a defender who can guard multiple positions."

Rivers said he hadn't told Wallace that he'd "made the team", adding that you only tell guys when they haven't made the team. Then he joked, "Maybe I should tell Paul and Ray that they've made the team..."

Peter Stringer covers the team for Celtics.com. You can send him .

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