Celtics mull options with Perkins out, more from Finals practice
With Kendrick Perkins out for Game 7, the Celtics may look to Shelden Williams
Lakers center Andrew Bynum plans to play through his knee injury Thursday
Phil Jackson will donate his potential bonus to charity; Finals a hit with ratings
LOS ANGELES -- Kendrick Perkins limped to the podium with the aid of a pair of crutches, his baggy shorts covering up the bulky knee brace that enveloped his right knee.
"I'm out for tomorrow," said Perkins. "There's nothing I can do about it."
The loss of Perkins, who told reporters he tore the MCL and PCL in his knee (an MRI to confirm the diagnosis will be taken Friday in Boston), is a body blow for the Celtics. Though he hasn't had the same impact he had against Cleveland and Orlando -- largely due to the lack of a dominant post presence -- Perkins is a critical player in Boston's team defense.
"It takes 7-footer, a very valuable player off the floor for us," said Doc Rivers. "It's like I told our guys this morning, somebody has a great opportunity tomorrow."
By 'somebody,' Rivers is referring to three somebodies: Rasheed Wallace, who will likely get the start in Perkins place, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Shelden Williams. Wallace is the most experienced of the bunch, having been involved in Game 7 situations with Detroit, including a deciding-game loss to San Antonio in 2005. Wallace isn't as physical as Perkins but he is a capable defender on either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol and can stretch the floor with his jump shot.
"It's that know-how," Wallace said of playing in a Game 7. "Certain times you know you can shoot crazy shots and certain times you know that you can't. I don't think it's going to be an up-and-down game like you have seen. I think it will be more ball control. Because every possession counts."
The 6-foot-9, 289-pound Davis has had an up-and-down series. He scored 30 points in Games 3 and 4 combined but has been held scoreless in the last two games, attempting just four shots.
"I think Baby, the last couple of games, has been doing way too much thinking," said Rivers. "Baby is an instinctive intensity player; when he starts playing with thought, that's not what you want. I think he has to get back to playing with the energy and the instincts instead of thinking 'What [do] I need to do?'"
Williams would settle for inconsistency, but that would mean he had played. Before being thrust into the lineup on Tuesday, Williams had played only once in the series: a four-minute stint in Game 2. The emergence of Davis in the second half of the season has limited Williams to eight minutes per game (in 20 games) after the All-Star break. Still, Williams is a more natural rebounder than either Wallace or Davis, and given the way Boston was crushed (52-39) on the glass in Game 6 -- and the fact that the team that has won the rebounding battle has won the game -- he could help.
"The whole thing about Game 6 was that they played hard and we didn't," said Williams. "It wasn't anything about X's and O's. It was all energy. We need to get that energy back and sustain it throughout the whole game."
With Perkins out, Rivers may tinker with a more unorthodox lineup. There is precedent that it could work: in 2009 the Lakers were pushed to seven games by a Yao Ming-less Rockets team, who small-balled L.A. all over the floor.
"There could be a lineup we could throw out there, and there is probably one we'll work on today that we haven't shown," said Rivers. "I can probably guarantee that."
Gimmicks aside, the Celtics' fortunes in Game 7 likely rest in the hands of their backup big men, a challenge each seems eager to take on.
"It's just hoopin'," said Wallace. "That's what I came here for. I love this situation."
Perkins' injury could affect more than just this series. Perkins said the Celtics doctors told him that had he suffered the injury in December, he would be out for the rest of the season. Translated, that could mean Perkins could miss time early next season.
"I knew something was wrong," said Perkins. "I didn't know exactly what it was. I couldn't get up [today], I couldn't walk. My whole leg was hurting."
Perkins said the toughest part of being out wasn't the physical pain, but rather the mental anguish of having to watch his teammates play without him.
"I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't hurting," Perkins said. "I'm hurting. Game 6 of the Finals, couldn't help your team, can't really do anything but sit on the sideline and encourage guys to play better. Probably won't get this opportunity again to even make it back to the Finals. So physically I'm doing better than I am mentally."
Andrew Bynum asked to come out early in the third quarter of Game 6, and he continues to be day-to-day with a knee injury. But indications are that he will be in the starting lineup for the Lakers on Thursday night.
"I need surgery, but I'm holding off," Bynum said. "Just gotta go out and lay it all out there."
Bynum's toughness has earned him major points with his teammates.
"It's pretty remarkable what he has been able to do for us," said Pau Gasol. "He is a factor every time he is out there, even though he might be limited. Whatever he has got, he is going to leave it out there, just like the rest of us."
It reported this week that Phil Jackson was in line for a $2 million bonus should the Lakers win the title. On Wednesday, Jackson acknowledged the bonus, but said he would donate it to charity.
"This is something I will do with the bonus as I feel fit, which is to fund some of the charities that I consider to be very necessary in my life," Jackson said. "That's one of the things I made a promise to myself about."
Think the NBA doesn't love Celtics-Lakers? Three games of the series helped ABC to its best summer week in the ratings in six years. Sunday's Game 5 was the most-watched NBA Finals game in five years (it averaged 18.65 million viewers) since Game 7 of the 2005 Pistons-Spurs series, and Game 4 last Thursday averaged 16.37 million viewers (the most for a Game 4 since 2004). Though this year's Game 6 ratings slipped 4 percent since the last one between the Lakers and Celtics in 2008, the latter one crowned a champion. This year's rare Game 7 is expected to produce a big rating Thursday.