Former NBA star Kendrick Perkins spent 16 seasons in the league, winning a championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics. Now an analyst for ESPN, Perkins appeared on First Take with co-hosts Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose Wednesday to discuss the upcoming NBA playoffs, and what he said is likely to get the blood of Clipper Nation boiling.
Perkins says he initially picked the Los Angeles Clippers to win it all this year, but after witnessing the team’s play in recent weeks, said he’s re-thinking that entirely.
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Perkins: Lakers Are Best Defensive Team in the NBA
“The reason I don’t think the Lakers should be afraid of the Clippers — and I actually picked the Clippers as my favorite, but I’m kinda backtracking on that because they’ve been playing horrible basketball,” Perkins said, before employing the word “horrible” again in reference to Paul George.
“Kawhi’s (Leonard) not healthy, PG is looking horrible, and the Lakers put on a defensive clinic last night,” (in a 101-99 overtime win over the New York Knicks). “They are the best defensive team in the league. They hang their hats on the defensive side of things, so with that being said, the Western Conference is looking a little shaky at the top right now, so if I’m the Lakers, I’m not fearing no one.”
.@KendrickPerkins doesn’t think the Lakers should be scared of the Clippers at all 😳
“They’ve been playing horrible basketball! Kawhi’s not healthy, PG is looking horrible and the Lakers … are the best defensive team in the league!” pic.twitter.com/75gKSBLpmc
— First Take (@FirstTake) May 12, 2021
Perkins made a few points that are difficult to refute, including Leonard’s questionable health and George’s inconsistent play of late, but the Clippers are well aware of their own shortcomings.
Clips Know They’re Not Looking Great at Present
From mid-March to late April, the Clippers were looking untouchable. They went 18-4 on one stretch in that span, but then the injury bug just wouldn’t stop biting, with Leonard currently dealing with hand/foot injuries, Patrick Beverley dealing with an injured hand and big man Serge Ibaka battling back issues that have been ongoing for the last two months.
L.A. has dropped four of its last seven games, and it cannot continue playing the way it has come playoff time. But the Clippers know this.
“I didn’t like the flow we had offensively,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said after the team’s 115-96 win over the Toronto Raptors May 11. “So I just got to look at a few things, keep searching and trying to find out the right situation for us. But I didn’t like us offensively to start. Not so much the turnovers, just the flow of the game.”
“Some of the plays, we’re just throwing the ball,” Leonard added. “It just comes between the ears. What type of mindset are we going to have, and do we want to win it? Because, you know, you need carryover. I guess we just got to keep moving forward. Can’t keep talking about it, it’s about doing it.”
The last thing the Clippers want is another early postseason exit, but Perkins does have a point. The Lakers shouldn’t fear Kawhi and company the way they’ve been playing lately. It will be on the Clippers to instill that fear themselves.
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