Let's end quickly any notions of bad blood, revenge, or animosity of any kind between Kendrick Perkins and his old team. There never has been, and judging by today's comments on both sides, there isn't going to be any. Perkins will probably get T'd up, too. Won't matter.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it would be emotional going against his former player.
"I don't ever call it coaching against players, because I can't go out there and guard them," said Rivers. "I wish I could foul the hell out of him but I can't. But it is going to be different, and I'm glad it's here and we can get it over with. Because he meant a lot to me."
Rivers said Jermaine O'Neal will start at center tonight.
"I hear a lot of talk about him, and one of the things I tell J.O. every day is, 'Do your job every night, and if you do that we're going to be happy with you,'" said Rivers. "And that's the rebounding, blocking shots, and taking charges. That's what important for us. I think when he gets into that he's so much better for us."
Rivers characterized O'Neal's play as up-and-down this season and said defensively he's been good more times than bad.
On Perkins's 30-pound weight loss with the Thunder, Rivers said he thought Perkins was Thunder guard James Harden when he first saw a picture of him.
Rivers had high praise for Harden, saying, "He's terrific. He's Paul Pierce as a two (guard), except for he's a better passer. At times he's their best playmaker. He plays at a great NBA speed, and he came into the league playing at that speed. He just has a great tempo about him, an unbelievable feel ... He kills you with simplicity."