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Kendrick Perkins speeds up his timetable, will return tonight

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With Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal both sidelined during last Saturday’s game against the Wizards, the Celtics were forced to rely on Semih Erden and Glen Davis as the entirety of their center rotation. When healthy, Boston is the deepest team in the NBA, and yet for his particular game their frontline had dwindled down to a pair of last resorts.

Both O’Neals are set to miss tonight’s game as well, but the Celtics have an unexpected addition to their center core: Kendrick Perkins, who has missed the entire season to date with a right knee injury, will make his return to the lineup, according to the Celtics’ Twitter feed. Perkins claimed to be about two weeks away from game action as of this past Sunday, yet Doc Rivers is prepared to bring Perk off the bench to play 12-16 minutes in the middle. Whatever magical meal Perkins had for lunch on Monday, I’ll have two of ’em.

Honestly, Perkins should need no introduction. His interior defense has been a huge asset to the Celtics, and his return represents something fairly frightening: a Celtics team even more fearsome and more complete than the one we’ve seen all year. Boston has had their ups and downs, but injuries aside they’re as good — or better — than any team in the league. Add Perkins to that already potent lineup and allow both O’Neals to come off the bench in the process (or start Shaq and brink Perkins off the bench, whatever Rivers fancies) and the Celtics look pretty damn solid inside. The rotations are there, the defensive pressure is there, and now, for the first time all season, the center position is starting to come together as intended. The next step is getting Perkins back into NBA shape and reintegrating both O’Neals, but this is a big day for Boston.

Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers dislocated shoulder in preseason game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:

A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:

Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.