In two games against Cleveland, the Celtics have not had many problems going against Shaquille O'Neal as the Cavaliers' center this season. But, after O'Neal departed with a thumb injury late in the first half of a Feb. 25 matchup, the Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in taking a 108-88 victory.
O'Neal will not be available when the teams meet in Cleveland Sunday, and that could makes things difficult for the Celtics, according to center Kendrick Perkins.
Asked how different the Cavaliers are without O'Neal, Perkins replied: "In my opinion, I think they're better. They can run more, you've got Anderson Varejao, who is more of an active body, he gets LeBron (James) open a lot, opens up the paint for them. I think they're a better team. Obviously, Shaq could help them but I think they're a more fast-paced team."
The Celtics held a one-hour practice before departing for Cleveland Saturday.
"I'm looking foward to the game, seeing exactly where we're at," Perkins said. "Looking forward to competing against a great team, at home, best in the NBA. I think it will be a great confidence-booster for us to go in there and get a win."