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NBA Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett Kendrick Perkins

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The Boston Celtics players were clearly stunned when Kendrick Perkins was dealt at the trade deadline to Oklahoma City. In some ways, it appears they haven’t particularly recovered. The Celtics are just 9-6 in the 15 games since Perkins departed the team. It’s not a horrendous record given a small sample size, but for a team that has lost just 20 games in 70 games so far this season, it’s hard to overlook. They’ve even lost five of their last nine games, including their game against Memphis on Wednesday. However, All-Star forward Kevin Garnett doesn’t seem that worried. He points to the fact that the Celtics have been missing Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal as just as big of a contributing factor to the struggles. When they get those two back, where do you think they rank in terms of toughest out in the East?

Kevin Garnett joined WEEI in Boston with the Mut and Merlonito discuss Doc Rivers calling the team soft, playing without Kendrick Perkins, the toughness of Boston’s team, how the team changes when Shaq comes back and if he needs to play significant minutes to prepare for the playoffs.

What was it like for Doc Rivers to call he and his teammates soft?:

“That really wasn’t cool at all, but Doc has a way of motivating us in more than one way. He knows how to push buttons and get guys to respond. … If he has something to say to you individually, he’ll say it … but I don’t think there was a guy in the locker room that was feeling that. We told him after the game, ‘Don’t ever say nothing like that ever again.’”

Has the team gotten used to playing without Kendrick Perkins?:

“That’s the reality part of it. … As much as it does hurt, as much as you are emotionally attached, you’ve got to get over it. … From that standpoint, I think we’ve all been doing that.”

On analyst Chris Broussard saying the team isn’t as tough without Perkins:

“Just because a person says he’s an expert doesn’t mean he’s an expert. He has an opinion. … People fail to realize that Perk was one of the parts of our team that made us really, really good, that made us tough. … With Perk, we had a style of play that works with us. … We’re a similar firm team, but what you’ve got to (under)stand is we’re playing without [Shaq] and we’re playing without [Jermaine O’Neal].”

How does the team change when Shaq comes back?:

“It changes dramatically. You have not only a post presence, but a presence, period. Shaq is physical on both ends. … I think a lot of people are not really paying attention to J.O. JO has obviously been hurt, but he’s been a guy who’s led teams and can be a presence. You can’t teach experience and you can’t teach heart.”

Does Shaq need to get back and get some minutes under his belt?:

“If he played 45, 46, 48 minutes, I’d probably say he needs to get in a rhythm and everything. But he’s playing minimal minutes for us, probably 15, 20, 25 minutes. … It’s really basic to what Shaq’s going to do. He’s going to be in so many different positions, but it’s all going to be in the paint. … We’ve just got to give him the ball in his spots. We all know his game, we’ve all played with him. … We’re not really concerned about that.”

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