Paul PierceBOSTON — Kendrick Perkins hasn’t been a teammate of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in three years, but he’s still doing favors for his old Boston Celtics buddies, even if he doesn’t mean to.

Before taking on the new-look Celtics as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perkins lamented that the recent surge by the Brooklyn Nets, with Garnett and Pierce playing vital roles, came at his current team’s expense. The Nets have won eight of their last nine games, starting with a 95-93 win over the Thunder earlier this month.

The fact that the Nets’ run began against his squad prevented Perkins from feeling too much happiness for the future Hall of Famers who he helped capture a championship in 2008.

Perkins never wrote off the Nets in the early going, not during the 10-21 start or when coach Jason Kidd seemed to be embarrassing himself on a nightly basis. He expects Garnett and Pierce to be in the same place this season as they have been for the last six springs — in the playoffs, proving to be a tough out for some unfortunate opponent.

“One thing I know about KG and Paul, they’ll be great leaders,” Perkins said. “I know, every time they step on the court, they’re going to bring it.”

The Nets’ run has coincided with an impressive run by Joe Johnson, Brooklyn’s starting two-guard. Johnson is averaging 19.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, with an offensive rating of 120 points per 100 possession, during this stretch. Johnson’s hot streak wouldn’t be possible without Garnet and Pierce deferring and facilitating, as Perkins noted.

“From the outside looking in, it kind of looks like they both took a backseat to Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, and I expected that out of them,” Perkins said. “They’re guys who are willing to sacrifice. They’ll be dangerous, though, in the playoffs. They’re going to make the playoffs, too, and be dangerous.”