Welcome back, Perk.
It's pretty hard to forget, the 6:30 or so mark in Game 6 of last season's NBA Finals. That was the moment Kendrick Perkins went down, writhing in pain, clutching his knee, done, just like that.
The rest, like Perk's torn ACL, is painful history. The Celts, one win away from their 18th NBA title, lost that night, 89-67, then again two nights later, 83-79, to give that championship to their arch rivals, the Lakers.
In Game 7, L.A. outrebounded the Celts 53-40. Twenty-three of the Lakers boards were on the offensive glass. Who was the Celts leading rebounder last year? Perk. Man, the chunks are rising a little bit just thinking about it.
Last week, in the Celts final home game before embarking on a four-game, West coast swing that would include their first visit to the Staples Center in L.A. since those two fateful nights last June, Perk returned from his injury, a little over seven months since undergoing surgery to repair it. And in some ways, it feels like he never missed any time at all.
In five games, he's averaging 22 minutes, six points and seven rebounds, including 8 and 10, respectively, in the road trip finale Tuesday night in Sacramento. It's not quite the 10 and 8 and 60 percent from the floor he averaged last season, or even the 9 and 8 he put up the year before. But those numbers will come. Right now, Perk's just happy to be back.
"This definitely helps my confidence," he told the Boston Herald following the Celts' 95-90 win over the Kings. "I think it's all mental. I keep saying that. A lot of people out there aren't 100 percent so I think you just have to keep pushing, keep grinding."
Perk's return represents a huge plus for the C's not only because of his his size and ability in the paint, or his role as an intimidating figure on the defensive end. It's majorly important even more so in that his presence allows the Celts to be able to rely far less on the aged Shaquille O'Neal and perhaps even forget about the decrepit Jermaine O'Neal, who hasn't been able to play more than a couple weeks at a time for the past two-plus seasons.
"I feel good, my body feels good," he told the Herald. "I feel like I'm getting in good shape."
He frustrates sometimes, whether it's from his uncanny ability to pick up at least one foul per game for setting a moving pick or the fact that he's never seen a call he doesn't vociferously disagree with. But Perk is major part of this Celtics team and his presence will go a long way toward the team not just returning to the Finals, but maybe even winning them again as well.
"I've still got a lot of work to do," he told the Herald. "But I'll tell you when I think I'm all the way there."