If the Celtics want to have a shot at beating the New York Knicsk tonight, Kevin Garnett can’t miss too much time.
Garnett struggled on the offensive end the other night, but what he brought defensively was pivotal in the Celtics staying in the game. Once he came out of the game, there were multiple instances in the third quarter where there was no Celtic in the paint to defend.
The Celtics don’t really have a great defensive big rotation. They’re going to be a small team throughout the playoffs playing combinations of Jeff Green-Brandon Bass in some combination.
The combo of Green and Bass was productive defensively in game one against the Knicks. They logged a defensive rating of 89 points per 100 possessions. That was right on par with Green and Garnett’s defensive numbers and is just slightly better than Bass and Garnett on the floor too.
They can squeak by with this lineup, but Garnett provides the offensive spacing that you need for dribble penetration on the offensive end and is easily the Celtics’ best help defender on the defensive end of the floor as well.
The communication defensively is at a premium when Garnett is on the floor. That’s something that the Celtics were missing in the waning moments of the third quarter when New York finally started to pull away.
Of course, defense wasn’t necessarily the problem for the Celtics but a lot of the turnovers that having Garnett in the game would’ve eliminated some of the easy driving lanes that were there for Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith.
I’m sure that if Garnett is productive on the offensive end then we’ll see him on the floor way more than we did on Saturday.