Tomorrow night the Boston Celtics will match up against the Orlando Magic in one of the biggest games of this young season. The Magic are one of the serious threats in the Eastern Conference and are the reigning conference champions. The Celtics are hoping to defeat the Magic and put themselves as the favorite in the Eastern Conference.
The X-Factor tomorrow night is going to be the Celtics big man, Kendrick Perkins. He will be matched up with arguably the best center in the league, and last years NBA defensive player of the year, Dwight “Superman” Howard. In previous matchups between the two big men Perk has been able to contain Howard better than any other big in the league. In these matchups Perk has lived up to his nickname, “beast”, and used his physicality to contain “Superman”.
During last year’s NBA playoffs Perkins limited Howard to hook shots, fadeaways in the post, and outside shots, none of which were really part of Howard’s offensive game, some may argue he’s improved in those areas but thats for another day. Through the seven game series against Perk and the Celtics, Howard averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting 55% from the floor. During that series Perkins limited him to quite a bit below his season averages of 20.1 points per game on 57% shooting. In the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland, and a less physical center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Howard went on to average 25.9 points per game on 65% shooting, including a career high 40 point performance.
What these stats show are that these differences are not small, with a six game sample it is pretty conclusive that Perk can limit Superman better than many other big men in the league. Coming into tomorrow night’s game Perk is clearly going to be the X-factor in my mind. One of the keys to the game will be whether he can continue to limit Howard like we know he can. If he does that, and also limits the penetration of the other Magic players than it will be very tough for them to score above ninety points.
So far this season the Celtics are 9-0 when limiting their opponents to ninety points or lower. Lets hope Perk comes into tomorrow nights game as a unhappy camper. If he can come right out of the gate and push Howard around a little bit it might end up being a rough night in Boston for Superman.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)