Boston did not lose this game at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. When Kendrick Perkins went down the Lakers were already up 6 points, L.A. had been dominating the boards, they were shooting better, they were playing with energy and getting to the 50/50 balls.
But that moment may have cost them Game 7.
The 5:30 mark Perkins went up for a rebound, fighting for it with Lakers center Andrew Bynum — a guy already playing through a knee injury that will require surgery — and Kobe Bryant. Perkins seemed to land awkwardly and injure his knee. He had to be helped off the court and to the locker room, and he never returned. Officially, the Celtics are saying it’s a sprain, although Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that it is a sprain to both the MCL and PCL. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
It will be a day and a half before any decision is made, but Doc Rivers was not optimistic.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t look great, but I don’t know,” Rivers said.
After the game Perkins was seen walking to the team bus under his own power but very stiffly, according to ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher. Perkins also said he would try to give it a go.
They need him. Without Perkins in Game 6, things opened up inside even more for a Lakers team that came out the more aggressive team, the team playing with more desperation. The Lakers were get getting into the paint on the dribble drive, getting the ball to their big men in deep. And the Lakers were getting rebounds — Los Angeles had a 12 to 5 rebound advantage after one quarter, 30 to 13 at the half.
“(Perkins is) a guy that cleans the paint up, let’s say, and not having him there made the Lakers awfully long,” Rivers said. “It also, I thought, allowed them to rest Bynum even more in the game.”
Bynum also sat out almost the entire second half because he asked out after his knee swelled up and he could barely run after halftime. Jackson said Bynum had swelling on the back of the leg that will receive treatment. But as he has all series, Bynum said he will be out there for Thursday night.
So it comes to a Game 7 where Boston may well be without their defensive force in the paint, their key rebounder, another key big body. Rivers said that either Rasheed Wallace or Glen “Big Baby” Davis would start if Perkins can’t go — he hasn’t decided — but that both will get key minutes. Sheldon Williams may get more minutes as well.
“It would be tough if (Perkins) can’t go,” Rivers said. “Somebody else is just going to have to step forward.”
Boston to a man echoed that thought. They know that road teams are 3 and 11 in NBA finals Game 7s. But nobody was expecting things to be easy because nothing has been for Boston this season.
“We went through too many ups and downs to lose like this,” Davis said. “Out of all the teams in the league we were the one that struggled. We were the one that went through the bumps and bruises. We went through the, ‘we’re old.’ We went through the ‘oh, they can’t play, they’re going to get beat by Cleveland, get beat by Orlando.’ We’re here now, in spite of what everyone else thinks.
“So you think we’re just going to let this go? No. We accept the challenge to win the championship. We want it. It’s that point blank simple. We could have gave up a long time ago. We could have gave up a long time ago and looked forward to next year. But no, we’re here. So we’re going to take it while we are here. We understand we’ve been through the ups and down and deserve it more than them.”