Three weeks ago, Kendrick Perkins returned to full-contact practice with the Celtics at their facility in Waltham, Mass., and afterward he had an announcement to make. He'd set a return date — Feb. 4. That Friday night, he'd make his 2010-11 Celtics debut, at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
That date is now here, and oh, by the way, Perk's already been back for five games.
Perkins exceeded all expectations by returning early on Jan. 25, leaving his mark on a blowout Celtics win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. He's been a major factor for the C's off the bench ever since — he's averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in just 22.2 minutes per. He's far exceeded all expectations the Celtics had for him, and even those that Perk had for himself.
When Perkins went down seven-plus months ago with a torn ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers, it was unknown when he'd ever be able to come back. A serious knee injury like that and the ensuing surgery, don't exactly scream "speedy recovery." For some, it takes six months; for others, a year or even two.
But Perkins isn't only back now — he's back and he's contributing major minutes. He played almost 28 in the Celtics' dramatic win over the Lakers on Sunday, and this was just days after coach Doc Rivers said he'd only see 12 to 15 minutes for the immediate future.
Perk's role is getting bigger every day. And with the constant nagging injuries to the rest of the Celtics' bigs, there's a chance that the 26-year-old big man could crack the starting five soon.
In the long run, that's where he belongs.
Perk said all along he was planning for Friday night against Dallas to be his first game back. Instead, it'll be his sixth. Perk and the C's tip off against the Mavs at 8 p.m.