As Boston Celtics fans know, Kevin Garnett is the cornerstone of the team on both ends of the floor, especially on defense. Yesterday, Garnett made an impact for Boston, but offensively he was lacking and it was noticeable with his intensity level. Watching the game, I thought that he wasn’t aggressive enough throughout the game, but wrote it off because the New York Knicks defense was stifling in Game 1. However, CSNNE’s Tommy Heinsohn said something after the game that made sense, but should also concern fans moving forward in this series.
“KG didn’t look as mean and nasty as he normally does. He didn’t look right, I think he’s hurt, but they’re not gonna say it”
In the years that Garnett has been healthy for Boston, he was ferocious and looked like a gladiator preparing to fight for his life, as if it was his last game. Yesterday it wasn’t there. He wasn’t aggressive and instead played passive and rarely got down into the paint. Garnett has always fed off his defensive intensity to perform at a high level on the other ends of the court, and while his defense was good, it still wasn’t up to his standards which was evident in his play.
He’s getting up there in age and is entering the twilight of his career. But I agree with Tommy on this one, he didn’t look right. Garnett can still get up for games unless he’s injured, which seems to be the case. He may not be limping but he’s significantly slower on both ends of the floor. The impact that he does make for Boston on defense comes from his knowledge of the game and his height. He’s certainly lost a step laterally, but still knows how to rotate off screens and his help defense helps the team considerably.
I’ve read a lot of fans opinions on how the Celtics should use Garnett more and get him involved in the offense early. I disagree. Doc Rivers kept Garnett in for too long in the first half, and said before the game that he was throwing the 5-5-5 game plan out the window for the playoffs. That idea failed, and instead of being rested for the fourth quarter, he looked like a winded old man who played too many hours of basketball at a gym against high school kids. He played 36 minutes, which is around his average, but in a high intensity game like yesterday his energy should have been reserved for the second half.
In Game 2, Doc needs to return with the limited minutes for Garnett. I understand he’s the most important player on the floor for the Celtics, but sadly, Boston can’t win games like they did in 2008 or even 2010. Without Rajon Rondo, it makes it much more difficult to emerge victorious, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse since Boston was within reach of stealing Game 1 from the Knicks.
For Boston to even this series up, they must get Green involved throughout the entire game. In the second half he disappeared, and while that may be blamed on fatigue, Green wasn’t given the ball despite having a solid first half scoring 20 points. The Celtics entered yesterday with the same game plan they’ve used for the past six seasons, and needless to say it backfired on them. This is a new league, new series, and new era for Boston, and if they want to thrive they’ll have to adapt. Someone needs to step up whether its Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, or Brandon Bass. The old veterans can’t carry this team on their own, help is needed. Until the starters get help from the bench or role players, their punches at the Knicks will do minimal damage. A new game plan needs to be devised, or this series is over.