Pregame notes: Perk 'a whole lot better'

Chris Forsberg/ESPNBoston.com

The banner says it all outside Amway Arena before Game 1.ORLANDO -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics visit the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday at Amway Arena:

The rundown (a quick look at pregame headlines)

* Perkins a 'whole lot better,' ready to play

* Van Gundy: Barnes improves, will start in Game 1

* Doc: Good to be home; torn rooting allegiances

Perkins a 'whole lot better,' ready to play

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said his knee responded well to treatment, dubbing himself, 'a whole lot better,' and confirmed that he's ready to play in Sunday's Game 1.

Perkins sat out Saturday's practice with what coach Doc Rivers suggested was soreness in the same knee that's plagued him recently. But Perkins clarified before Sunday's game that it was his left knee that was sore, not the right one that he suffered a hyperextension of during the morning shootaround before Game 2 in Cleveland last round.

Perkins iced both knees while watching Saturday's practice session and got more treatment after the team traveled to Orlando. Perkins said he would have played Saturday had there been a game then, and never considered missing time because of the pain.

"Just a little sore in my left knee," said Perkins. "I just tweaked it a little bit. I got treatment, I feel better. I'm ready to play today."

When asked about how much of the pre-series analysis seems to focus on his matchup with Dwight Howard, Perkins acknowledged that he must limit Orlando's athletic big man, particularly without needing help from other bigs, but reiterated his comments from the other night when he stated that limiting the Magic's 3-point shooters might ultimately be the biggest key to Boston's success.

"They have a lot of shooters around the 3-point area. At the same time..." Perkins said, pausing a moment to superstitiously knock on the wooden bench he was sitting on in the locker room, "lately, we've guarded the 3 pretty well. We're running guys off shots. But there's a couple tough matchups. It's the Eastern Conference Finals, so it's supposed to be like that."

Van Gundy: Barnes improves, will start in Game 1

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy confirmed that swingman Matt Barnes is feeling better and will start Sunday's Game 1.

Like Perkins, Barnes sat out practice Saturday as he batlted back spasms, but did not seem in jeopardy of missing Sunday's game. Van Gundy did suggest previously that Barnes might open the series guarding Ray Allen instead of Paul Pierce, and it will be interesting to see if the Magic stray from that strategy given Barnes' balky back.

For their part, the Celtics seem unconcerned with how Orlando matches up.

"We're not going to change what we do," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Allen echoed his coach's sentiment, but did note that swapping defensive assignments from one end of the floor to the other could certainly add a wrinkle in transition if the Magic get caught scrambling to pick up. Of course, it's up to Boston to force that issue by exploiting it when able to fastbreak.

Doc: Good to be home; torn rooting allegiances

Rivers, an Orlando native and former head coach of the Magic, said it was nice to be back in familiar surroundings, but his friends are awfully torn about who to root for this series.

"It's nice to have family and friends around, but some of my friends are wavering," said Rivers. "I have one good friend, he's a lifelong Magic fan and he said, 'Man, it's tough cheering against you.' But that's the way it should be. He's been a fan of the Magic since their birth."