NBA Champ Dishes Tough Love to Celtics After Near Late-Game Collapse

Kendrick Perkins sends strong message to Celtics bench

Getty Head coach Brad Stevens (C) of the Boston Celtics watches the game from the bench during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.

The Boston Celtics did a lot of good on Thursday night. The team extended their winning streak to five games by knocking off the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers — albeit without LeBron James and Anthony Davis at their disposal.

Still, much of the Celtics’ efforts garnered the approval of Kendrick Perkins. The former NBA Champion turned analyst applauded the likes of Tristan Thompson and Jaylen Brown following Boston’s victory.

“Tristian Thompson gives the Celtics a different type of EDGE,” Perkins tweeted after the win. “The Celtics are 10-1 in the last 11 games with Thompson and currently on a 6 game winning streak! Jaylen ‘Under Appreciated’ Brown finished with a casual 40 piece wing dinner Teriyaki Style!!!”

However, for all the good his former team did in the eyes of Perkins, he couldn’t but help be a bit off-put by the play of the Celtics’ bench in the closing minutes of the game.

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Perkins Calls Out Celtics’ Bench After Win Over Lakers

The Celtics led throughout much of the game, including hoisting a 27-point victory midway through the quarter on the back of Brown’s historic night. However, from there, things began to take a turn. The Lakers went on a 21-2 run to close the gap to just eight points with a smidge under two minutes remaining in regulation. Los Angeles’ surge led to head coach Brad Stevens needing to reinsert a plethora of his starters into Boston’s lineup to close out the game and nab the victory.

Following the contest, Perkins took to NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Postgame Live to send a strong message to those players who played a part in the team’s near late-game collapse.

“When you come into the game, you’re still fighting for your livelihood,” Perkins stated. “We’re talking about guys who are still on rookie contracts. When you’re on a rookie contract, every minute is valuable. Every possession is valuable.”

Perkins: ‘You Don’t Know Who’s Watching’

Perkins didn’t end there with his take. The former first-round pick game gave great insight into the importance of exerting 100% effort on the court, no matter what the score — especially for those players whose long-term placement on the roster is not completely set in stone.

“You don’t know who’s watching. It’s not just Brad Stevens or Danny Ainge and the Celtics organization, but they have other scouts from other teams who are watching,” he added. “Not only watching to scout the Celtics and send in a report sheet, but they’re watching to see other talent, who’s coming up for free agency so they can keep their on them in case the Celtics don’t want them. So you’re always auditioning for a job in the NBA, especially when you’re a third string-type of player.”

There’s no way around it, the fourth-quarter performance from the bench was abysmal. The Celtics’ last five off the bench on Thursday (Waters, Edwards, Nesmith, Ojeleye and Wagner), logged a total of 24 minutes in the final 12 minutes of play. Combined, those players scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting and averaged a plus/minus of -17.8 (h/t NBC Sports). 

Of late, Boston has looked more and more like the team many expected them to be entering the season, but that won’t matter come playoff time if their bench doesn’t elevate their game tenfold. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are amazing, but the All-Star duo can only shoulder so much come a seven-game series.

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