NBA Playoffs 2011: It's Time for the Celtics to Get over Perkins Trade

Chris SaxContributor IApril 15, 2011

The Celtics haven't been the same since they dealt Perk. It's about time they got over it.
The Celtics haven't been the same since they dealt Perk. It's about time they got over it.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It's been 49 days since the Boston Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In return, they received Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, a 2012 first-round draft pick and a 15-12 record since the trade.

I don't think that's what Danny Ainge had in mind when he pulled the trigger on this blockbuster deal at the deadline.

The Celtics were deflated after they lost their center to the Thunder. You can see it in their play over the past 27 games. Their body language has been poor, they've lost games against teams that should have been beaten easily and they were crushed in their last two games against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

I understand that Perkins was beloved in the locker room and by fans; I get that the team chemistry before the trade was untouchable.

But it's time for this team to move on and start playing basketball to their potential.

This is a team that has been to two out of the past three NBA Finals. They pride themselves on being one of the toughest teams in the league. Kevin Garnett doesn't pound his chest the entire game for nothing.

But at the end of this season, they've looked soft. Many are taking the easy way out by blaming the trade and saying that the Celtics have lost their identity because of it.

How could they have lost their identity? Trading away your fifth best player on a team that sent four players to the All-Star Game is not a reason for a team to lose its identity. No matter how much the players like Perk, the four leaders on this team should not have let this situation get as out of control as it has.

The Celtics must have forgotten that they were 33-10 in games that Perkins missed. They know how to play without him; trading him should not be an excuse for their poor play.

The players haven't been the only problem—even the coaching staff has been looking somber and lost without Perk.

What happened to Doc Rivers' "umbuntu?" Why wasn't Perkins' departure ever used as fuel to inspire this team to play hard? That could have easily been done. Now, almost 50 days after the trade, it's probably a little too late to use it as inspiration.

Despite all of this, Boston does have something going for it heading into the playoffs: The Celtic have been given a good matchup against the Knicks to start Round 1. The positive about this matchup is that you don't need size in order to beat the Knicks in a seven-game series.

The Celtics have usually relied on their incredible size and length to take advantage of other teams. Now they are lacking a little in that department and can use this first-round matchup as a boost.

Also, don't forget that Shaq is going to be coming back from injury to play in the playoffs. The Celtics are 28-9 in games that Shaq has played. Starting the postseason against the Knicks should be a great way to slowly introduce Shaq to significant playing time, while giving him a solid amount of time to heal as much as possible for later rounds in the playoffs.

The Boston Celtics appear to be a team that isn't really sure what they are anymore. What they don't realize is that they are still the same team they were before the trade.

They just need to get out of that mindset.

The leaders on this team should be able pull them out of their funk. Don't forget that last season the Celtics had a 27-27 finish heading into the playoffs.

They then went on to shock basketball fans by making it to the NBA Finals and taking the Lakers to seven games. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens again.