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Celtics notebook

Miami perks him up

Center performed well in meetings

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / April 17, 2010

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WALTHAM — The numbers would indicate that Kendrick Perkins is a matchup problem for Heat center Jermaine O’Neal. He’s averaged 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games against Miami this season, including one of his best nights, a 20-point, 10-rebound outburst Jan. 6. Perkins would say it’s not about the matchup, rather more about the Heat letting him slip through the cracks.

“I don’t really think it’s against Jermaine,’’ Perkins said. “I think it’s because of their defense. Miami is one of the teams that probably kind of disrespects me. I think they try to shut down everybody else and kind of forget about me. I always get easy layups and things like that.’’

Between the Celtics’ Big Three and the emergence of Rajon Rondo, Perkins is the easiest Boston starter to forget, even though he’s been one of the most consistent, starting 78 games for the second time in his career. He doesn’t view the lack of attention as a slight.

“It’s a good thing,’’ Perkins said. “I get a lot of easy looks. I try to make all the extra hard cuts, all the extra dives, and stuff like that.’’

Perkins’s offensive role expanded this season. His 522 shot attempts marked a career high.

“They go small at times, they do a lot of different things,’’ coach Doc Rivers said of the Heat. “We look for Perk in the post. They do help a lot [on defense], which opens it up for Perk.’’

But Perkins’s biggest contribution in the first-round series that begins tonight will be his defense. The Celtics will face the difficult task of trying to control Dwyane Wade, who finished fifth in the league in scoring (26.5 ppg).

“I’m not focused too much on the offensive end,’’ Perkins said. “I’m really focused on the defensive end. Going into the playoffs, I really don’t care if I average 2 points. If I average 10-plus rebounds and over three blocks, then I think I’m doing my job.

“I’m a huge factor. Kevin [Garnett] and myself, just to start the game, we have to make sure we do give a lot of help, and at the same time control our man. I think Rondo is the key to the series. He should be a live helper all day on the defense end.’’

It’s going around
Rondo left practice early yesterday after vomiting much of Thursday night and yesterday morning. Rivers expects Rondo to play tonight, though he won’t be 100 percent.

“We had him do film [study], then we did a walkthrough, then we told him go home,’’ Rivers said. “He’s going to play. I don’t know how well he’s going to feel. I don’t anticipate him feeling great, to be honest. I know we sent him to the hospital just for IV work and stuff like that.’’

Tony Allen sat out Tuesday’s game in Chicago with a fever of 102, and Glen Davis missed yesterday’s short practice because he wasn’t feeling well. He instead shot free throws for the portion of the workout that was open to the media.

Allen, who practiced, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, though he expected to be by tonight. Rivers said Allen would start if Rondo was unavailable.

“I was a little winded, but I expected that,’’ Allen said.

Fresh start
Game 1 will set the tone on several fronts, but the most important might be protecting home court. Although, the Celtics were actually better on the road (26-15) than at home (24-17) during the regular season. “Every game is important, but Game 1 is important because we’re at home,’’ Rivers said. “We’ve got to play well at home, that’s going to be the key for us to really do well, especially here in the first round because that’s the only game we have home-court advantage. It’s definitely a big game for us. All of the games are going to be big for us.’’ . . . The Celtics believe they have the bench advantage over the Heat. “I think we have great depth,’’ said Paul Pierce. “We have the know-how and the experience. We have all the qualities we need to win a championship.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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