C’s in trouble without Perkins?

Neil Paine of Basketball Reference thinks so…

We can really illustrate Perkins’ hidden importance by looking at the Plus/Minus numbers. When Perkins was on the court for Boston this season, the Celtics outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions; when he wasn’t playing, that number was only +0.2, a difference of -7 pts/100 poss.

Meanwhile, Perkins’ Game 7 replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, don’t fare nearly as well by the WOWOY metrics. Despite Davis’ heroics in Game 4, he and Wallace have been Boston’s two worst players by net on/off rating during the playoffs. Wallace has been particularly toxic for the Celtics all season — the team played 5 pts/100 poss. worse when he was on the floor, as evidenced by his recurring appearance in the Celts’ worst lineup combinations. Davis & Wallace look better by the 4-year WOWOY regression (Davis is +1.36, Wallace is +0.47), but neither has the ability to positively impact the game the way Perkins does. Without his presence, and playing on the road (home teams win Game 7 80% of the time), the Celtics appear to be in dire straits tonight.

Numbers aside, I tend to agree with Paine from a qualitative point of view. Kendrick Perkins is a really good post defender, better than Rasheed Wallace and much better than Glenn Davis. He is not the offensive player that either of those guys are, but when you’re part of a unit that includes the Big 3 and Rajon Rondo, you don’t have to be.

Wallace has played some good post defense in these playoffs, but he tends to get into foul trouble, and that’s bad news for tonight, when the Celtics are so painfully thin on the front line. His three point range can stretch the defense, but he’s shooting 26% in the Finals and 35% in the postseason, so it’s not like his defender can’t help off of him. The Celtics need a 15/10 kind of a night from ‘Sheed if they hope to win Game 7.

If he gets into early foul trouble and Boston is forced to play Shelden Williams major minutes, the Celtics will be in major trouble.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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