4-9 FG’s / 5-5 FT’s / 13 Points
For his first game back, I don’t know about you, but he played better than I had expected. His knee looked alright, and he didn’t really appear as though he was favoring it too much. There was one point in the game where I don’t know if he hit knees with another player or what, but he limped up for a bit. I was a little surprised neither Mike nor Tommy mentioned anything about it. Overall, I can not complain with the effort I saw on Friday night for The Big Ticket.
Ignoring the shot chart for a minute, I want to highlight something Garnett brought, and brings to the floor. Lets start with ball movement. Not only is KG a great passer as we all know, but at the same time he sets more screens than any other player on the Celtics roster. That is a huge part of the C’s game, but there was so little of it with him gone. Even if someone was to set a screen when he was out of the lineup, if it is Sheed he can’t hit as many shots as KG, and if its Perk, there really isnt too many options for him after he comes off the screen. Garnett brings that pick and pop game that was clearly missing.
With that being said, as ironic as it is, KG didn’t make any of those shots in Fridays game. As you can see on the shot chart, he took 4 of the shots we typically see him make. However, what was exciting for me to see was how he was right on target with them. All but one was halfway down and rimmed out. The other shot was one that was a little off balance and a little out of charachter for him to shoot.
As for his game down low- The first time he received the ball in the post and tried to make a move, it was fairly slow with little confidence and he missed the shot big time. The second time he got it back, no more than a few minutes later, he made a great move and flipped the ball in from off to the left a little (as you can see on the green box on the chart). Also, he finished in and around the rim. One of these included a break away dunk which was like a breath of fresh air. Not only that he could dunk, but that he was running the floor and bringing that intensity to get the other big men running with him.
I hope no one expected Garnett to go out and put up 20/10 on his first night back. 13 points is plenty good enough, especially knowing that he was very close on several shots that would have put him at around 17 points or more. Either way, at the end of the day it is not so much how great Kevin Garnett can shoot the ball. No, what it is really about is the type of motivation he brings to the floor that rubs off on the entire team. This team can win without his points on most nights (its obviously still good to have them). What they struggle with is winning without his intensity on the floor. It is surely a good thing to see him back and playing well.