HH Tournament: (1) Larry Bird vs (4) Kevin Garnett


Larry Bird and Kevin Garnett battle it out for a spot in the Final Four

In a close victory, Kevin McHale was able to pull off a mini upset over Bob Cousy to advance to the Final Four. McHale will take on another Celtics big man legend in Bill Russell for a spot in the championship. Today’s matchup features two fan favorites, Larry Bird and Kevin Garnett.

Don’t forget that this is based solely off their playing careers with the Boston Celtics. Any coaching or front office experience shouldn’t be taken into account, neither should their collegiate careers or any other NBA teams they may have played for.

Larry Bird – 1998 Hall of Fame Inductee

24.3 PPG, 10 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG

13 Seasons with Boston, 3x Champion, 12x All-Star, Rookie of the Year, 3x MVP, #33 Retired by Celtics

There are so many seasons that stand out during Larry Bird’s career with the Boston Celtics. He averaged a double-double in each of his first six NBA seasons and won three championships during his time with the Celtics. In his sixth NBA season, winning his second of three consecutive MVPs, Bird played as well as he ever did in his NBA career.

He led the league with 39.5 minutes per game for the first time in his career, and the extra playing time did not go to waste. Bird shot 52.2 percent from the field and a career-high 42.7 percent from three. It led to another all-around spectacle of a season from him.

He ended the season averaging 28.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He played in 80 games, starting 70, and dominated the competition from start to finish. It was a season before arguably the best team in NBA history was brought together, however he still helped lead Boston to 63 wins and an NBA Finals appearance.

Bird failed to win the championship that would have given the Celtics a three-peat a year later, but he was still Larry Legend. Despite his shooting percentages dipping to 46.1 percent from the field and 28 percent from three in the postseason, Bird still managed to post 26 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

It was far from his best postseason run, however it once again showed how he impacted the game in every facet.

Surprisingly, it was the one year in a four-year stretch that Bird failed to lead the league in free-throw percentage, but he still shot 88.2 percent from the line. Although, he made up for it with his outside shooting. As previously mentioned, Bird shot a very good 42.7 percent from deep. It never reached to those heights again, but it did spark a four-year run in which he never shot under 40 percent from three.

The greatness of Larry Bird was that he was one of the best all-around players ever and his game never seemed to deteriorate. He averaged more than 20 points per game in his final NBA season, and 1984-85 was just one of many seasons that could be inked as the best of his career.

 Kevin Garnett – 2008 NBA Champion

15.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG

6 Seasons with Boston, 1x NBA Champion, 5x NBA All-Star

There really isn’t any other choice than his first season with the Celtics. Sure, he ended his four-year streak of leading the league in rebounding with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he was everything the Celtics needed. He was a leader on and off the court and his production was more than Boston could have hoped for.

In 71 games during the 2007-08 season, Garnett saw 32.8 minutes per game. He shot 53.9 percent from the field (career-high) and posted 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. It was enough to earn him a spot on the All-Star team, and each statistical category in 2007-08 ended up being the best marks of his Celtics career.

He helped lead the Celtics to 66 wins that season, but it didn’t stop in the regular season. Garnett was back in the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04 and didn’t disappoint.

He played a remarkable 38 minutes per game during the Celtics 26 playoff games. Just like he was in Minnesota, Garnett was a beast with the Celtics. He only got better in the postseason. Garnett contributed 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 49.5 percent from the field.

He led the postseason in offensive, defensive and total rebounds that year, as well as two-point shot attempts.

The Celtics were never able to reach the top of the mountain with Garnett again. He was solid through the end of his tenure with Boston but there’s a reason he finished third in MVP voting in 2007-08, and why the Celtics won the championship that year.

Looking at statistics alone, the 2007-08 season is far and beyond his best season with Boston. Add in the instant leadership he brought and it makes his impact all that more impressive.

Don’t forget to vote on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics! The poll is up for 20 hours. Comments on here don’t count as votes, only the poll on Twitter will be looked at to determine who goes on to the Final Four.

Next: Danny Ainge's Target Year is 2017-18

Also, look at tomorrow’s match-up to see the results from today’s showdown.