It's his second time back in Boston since the controversial trade that sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, yet the feelings of return are similar for Kendrick Perkins, who will start at center tonight as the Thunder faces the Celtics.
Perkins was the team's anchor for 6 1/2 seasons before the February 2011 trade and is still a wildly popular figure among fans. While other observers say the Celtics' defense, allowing a whopping 107 points per game in six losses, has not been the same since his departure.
"Going against guys that you played with for a long time, won rings, went through wars with, still brothers over there," he said. "But at the end of the day, we're still trying to win games."
Perkins will oppose close friend and mentor Kevin Garnett, who is now the Celtics' starting center. Garnett was the team's power forward the last time the team's met.
"I'mma check him," Perkins said. "He's a brother. I take a lot of advice, I learned (from him). But we're both trying to win. One thing I know about Doc (Rivers), KG, Paul (Pierce), they're not satisfied so they're probably not satisfied with the team's defensive effort."