How the Boston Celtics Trading of Kendrick Perkins Was to Sabotage the LA Lakers
Of all the trades that happened before the trading deadline, the one that was most shocking was not Carmelo Anthony being traded to the New York Knicks, which everyone expected, or Deron Williams being moved to the New Jersey Nets, which no one expected, or Baron Davis being switched with Mo Williams in a battle of the lottery team point guards.
No, the most shocking trade this season was Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins being shipped along with Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a 2012 first-round draft pick.
This was the most shocking trade because it was deemed to be the most unnecessary.
Perkins has been an integral part of the Celtics starting lineup since the team won the NBA Championship in 2008 and in fact, his injury in Game Six of the NBA Finals last year is what has been cited by the Celtics and their fans as the reason why they lost the Finals.
So with Perkins just recently returning to the Celtics lineup this month from knee surgery having missed all of the Celtics' games since the Finals last year, everyone expected the Celtics were finally ready to make another (and perhaps final) run at the NBA Championship.
However, with Perkins being traded, that throws a serious wrench in the chemistry of the Boston Celtics and for the first time this season, raises legitimate questions whether they will be able to challenge again for the NBA Championship.
Which team benefited most from the Kendrick Perkins trade?
So why would the Celtics organization make this seemingly suicidal move that deals a major blow to their championship hopes while weakening in a major way one of their distinctive advantages, which is their front-line size and strength and defensive rebounding?
The answer, as it almost always is with the Celtics, is the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics are simply scared of losing in the NBA Finals again to the Lakers like they did last year.
Having just lost to the Lakers in their final regulation match-up this season at the TD Garden two weeks ago, the Celtics knew that if they were to face the Lakers again in the Finals, that they would most likely be defeated.
They needed to do something desperate, something so extraordinary and out-of-the-box, but a move that they felt could put them over the top in a very roundabout way.
What they decided to do was not necessarily strengthen themselves, but rather, strengthen their enemy's enemy.
Having evaluated the contenders in the Western Conference, the Celtics knew that the Lakers, despite their superficial troubles this season, have remained the top team in the West if not in the league.
The Celtics knew that as good as the Dallas Mavericks seemed to be this season, that come playoff time they will regress into their usual non-contending status, and would be easily eliminated in the second round by the Lakers.
Which Western Conference rival is now the Lakers' most dangerous playoff opponent?
Boston also was weary of whether the recent resurgence of the San Antonio Spurs was not just fool's gold. After all, the team has not gotten any younger and Tim Duncan, the Spurs' unquestioned leader, was having the worst season of his career.
The Celtics knew that when push came to shove, the Lakers would dominate the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals on the way to defeating them for the NBA Championship.
No, the Celtics knew that if they were to have a chance at winning their 18th NBA title this year, that they needed to face a different opponent in the Finals. An opponent which they can match-up well with, but one that would give the Lakers fits.
That opponent, they realized, is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Having driven the Lakers to a difficult first round series last year that wasn't decided until Game Six, the emergence of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the Thunder was one that gave the Lakers great concern.
With Durant being able to match Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant offensively and defensively, using his overlong arms and length to trouble the Lakers guard, the Thunder had a legitimate chance to threaten the Lakers' dominance.
The only thing that was standing in their way was a dominating frontline, one with the size and defensive prowess that could challenge the Lakers' Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Who would win now in a hypothetical Lakers-less NBA Finals?
Without that frontline, the Thunder would remain contenders to the champion Lakers, never being able to overcome that difficult hump.
With the trade of Perkins to the Thunder however, all that has now changed.
Matched with Durant and Westbrook, Perkins gives the Thunder the kind of defensive ferocity that they so lacked previously, along with defensive and offensive rebounds that they sorely need.
With Perkins, the Thunder now have a balanced team with an unflappable offensive force of Durant and Westbrook leading the attack, and a strong defensive anchor of Perkins guarding the basket.
Matched up against the slow and aging Spurs, the Thunder become the favorite in this match-up to get out of the second round.
And when matched against the champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, for once the Lakers will face an opponent that they don't have a clear advantage over.
Should the Thunder beat the Lakers to reach the NBA Finals, as by design of the Celtics, Boston feels that it has enough weapons and depth to be able to slow down the scoring tandem of Durant and Westbrook, while their inside knowledge of Perkins' game will allow them to overcome his defensive prowess.
And that is the only way the Boston Celtics feel they can beat the LA Lakers this year in the playoffs, and that is by not playing them at all.
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