This is a continuation of my preview of each important player outside of LeBron and Durant in this year’s 2012 NBA Finals.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
C – Kendrick Perkins: The Bulldog of OKC. Together with Derek Fisher (Lakers, 2000-2002 & 2009-2010) and slightly forgotten big man, Nazr Mohammed (Spurs, 2005), Kendrick Perkins have won at least one NBA championship. Perkins played a big role in the 2008 NBA championship campaign of the Boston Celtics. Since then Perkins has not only been growing as possibly the league’s best low-post defender today, but has also gained popularity among other NBA teams and the media as well. Perkins is well known for his no-smile-always-angry-or-serious-face. Off the court Perkins has been known to be a teddy bear to his teammates but on the court, he’s the complete and total opposite of that. In 2010, the Celtics were one win away from their second NBA championship with the Boston Three Party. Coincidentally, Perkins was going up against now-Thunder teammate then 4-time NBA champion Derek Fisher. Unfortunately for the Celtics and mostly the big man himself, Perkins sustained a season ending knee injury which would not only cost him to miss Game 7, which the Celtics lost, but also the first half of the following season. That following season, the Celtics would trade Perkins to the Thunder, a totally different team. However, despite being on a faster and obviously younger team, Perkins has been able to adapt well to their style of play. The Thunder as well have adapted to his vicious yet smart mentality he must have taken from Kevin Garnett and are now in the NBA Finals for the first time and Perkins’ third time in 5 seasons. Perkins doesn’t necessarily need to do much offensively with Durant and Westbrook on his side, however, Perkins will certainly need to do his damage inside the paint defensively alongside shot-blocker Serge Ibaka. In one game against the Heat this past regular season, Perkins managed to score 16 points. Very impressive from a guy like him.
C – Joel Anthony: We didn’t see much of Joel Anthony in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, but I expect to see a little bit more of Anthony in the 2012 NBA Finals, especially going up against Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and even Nick Collison. Ever since last year, I have always looked at Perkins and Anthony the same way. Both are undersized centers. Both can’t score very well and are not needed to. Both are/were, depending if you consider Harden, Durant, and Westbrook a Big 3 like Boston’s and Miami’s Big 3, on championship bounded teams with a Big 3. But are both solid on defense. Although, I would give the slight nudge on Perkins being the better undersized center, but Joel Anthony is not that far behind from him. Anthony was certainly at a huge disadvantage in last year’s NBA Finals going up against the 7 foot and lengthy Tyson Chandler, this year going up against players probably within his height Anthony might be able to just outwork them as he did against the Pacers and the Celtics. Specifically against the Pacers, where he was mostly used, Anthony has shown how important he is by giving the Heat second shot opportunities. Joel Anthony’s minutes in the upcoming NBA Finals is questionable and is still in the air even after Game 1 as we all know how much Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra likes to switch his rotation every now and then. With that being said, I do encourage Spoelstra to give Anthony some solid minutes in the NBA Finals.
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