BOSTON -- Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins admitted to battling some butterflies before Monday's game against his former squad. Perkins noted how the whole day felt odd, including entering the visitor's locker room before a nationally televised battle with his former team, the Boston Celtics.
Perkins said the whole trip to Boston had been strange, including going from the team plane to the Thunder's downtown hotel (instead of the usual trek to Boston's practice facility in Waltham). Perkins spent most of Monday holed up at the hotel after the team's morning shootaround and admitted he was trying to harness his emotions and focus on the game.
That won't be easy. Perkins admits he's still emotionally attached to the Celtics.
"I’m definitely happy with where I’m at," said Perkins. "I’m never taking it for granted, I’m happy in Oklahoma City, and stuff like that. I was fortunate to leave one great situation and go into another one. But, like I said, it’s a bond that you form, especially when you win a championship with guys. Also, just with being here since I was a young boy at 18, all the way to age of 26 -- it’s not like a stranger that you trade, and y’all go your separate ways, it’s just the end of it. At the end of the day, I’m happy, and I’m grateful for where I’m at. But I’d be lying to you if I just said I'm just cool and not attached."
Perkins stressed his connection to the Celtics and how much he keeps in contact with his former teammates. Coach Doc Rivers said it was going to be odd seeing him on the opposing bench.
"I don’t ever call it coaching against players, because I can’t go out there and guard him -- I wish I could foul the hell out of him, but I can’t," joked Rivers. "But it is going to be different. And I’m glad it’s here and I’m glad we can get it over with. Because he means a lot to me."
Will Perkins get a technical?
"Oh absolutely," said Rivers. "He is who he is, he’s not going to change."
Added Perkins: "Is that what y’all want? I don’t know, it depends on what’s going on in the game. But hopefully not. My financial advisor told me I got to chill out on those."
A few other quick hits from pregame:
* Jermaine O'Neal starts at center for the second straight game. Rivers stressed that he just wants to see O'Neal do the little things like blocking shots, rebounding, and taking charges.
* Keyon Dooling (right knee) and Chris Wilcox (left calf) are both out again for Boston. Dooling said he's feeling better, but Rivers hinted he's still not ready and might miss Wednesday's game against Toronto as well. Neither Wilcox nor Rivers set a timeline for that injury, but the expectation is that he'll miss most of this week. "I'll be back, ready to play whenever I'm healthy," said Wilcox. "I don't really have no date on it right now, just whenever I feel like I'm healthy, back to 100 percent, that's when I'm going."