HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — The status of Thunder center Kendrick Perkins for the Western Conference semifinals remains a bit of a mystery.
The Thunder’s week off after sweeping the Mavericks in the first round should benefit Perkins, who suffered a right hip muscle strain early in Game 4 against the Mavericks and did not return. But there has been no officials update on his condition, leaving Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman to wonder exactly what the recovery process (10-14 days potentially?) has in store for the big man and his team.
We will let the medical professionals handle the prognostications about his return and instead try to sift through the words of his head coach for a few morsels of information about where things stand.
“In the next couple of days we’ll have a better understanding of where he’s at,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after his team’s practice Monday. “We know the next couple of days he’ll continue to get worked on by our medical staff. I have a lot of respect for what they do. And it’s always about the players, so they’ll make sure [Perkins] is ready to play at the level he’s used to playing at … the extra few days of rest will be good for everybody.”
If the Lakers can finish off the Nuggets tonight in Game 5, that will set up a rematch of a first-round series the two teams played two postseasons ago. It will also ramp up the importance of Perkins returning to action as soon as possible. The Lakers have two 7-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol that will demand serious attention. A potential matchup against Perkins and the league’s shot blocking champ, Serge Ibaka, would be another interesting twist to the series.
Nick Collison is the third member of the Thunder’s big man rotation, with Nazr Mohammed capable of handling some minutes as well if Perkins is limited or unable to go for the start of the next series.
But a healthy Perkins is vital to the Thunder’s championship pursuit and, more immediately, their chances of defeating the Lakers.