Of the dozen or so appalling stories from yesterday’s game, the one that’s bothering me the most this morning is Kevin Garnett’s inexcusable no-show on the offensive end.
Before the series, we talked exhaustively about the need for Garnett to provide the Celtics a consistent post presence. In fact, Garnett’s offensive proclivities have been a regular topic of discussion lately. Chris Forsberg touched on them. As did Jackie MacMullan. As did Doc Rivers.
Coming into game one, everyone knew how crucial it was for Boston to get KG involved and work inside-out.
Here’s his shot chart for the game:
The line score of shame: 9 shots in 37 minutes. Only 3 of them in the paint. 6 total points. 0 free throws.
That’s abominable under normal circumstances. But when you consider the Celtics have no other viable interior offensive threats, that Garnett has matchup advantages over any defender Miami can throw at him, and that the Heat excel at defending the perimeter (where Boston’s other offensive threats reside), what happened yesterday is utterly inexplicable.
Why didn’t Garnett demand the ball more often? Why didn’t Rajon Rondo (and Delonte West) call his number more frequently? Why didn’t Doc call a timeout and insist the Big Ticket get down on the block?
Garnett often avoids direct criticism about his offensive play for the good reasons that you’re all aware of: he’s a stunning team defender, an excellent defensive rebounder, a great teammate, and the defining individual for this team’s culture. But Garnett’s preference for passing and his proficiency from the elbow don’t excuse his failings in game one. Where most of his teammates were impatient on offense, Garnett was, as we have seen many times before, far too willing to fit into the flow of the game rather than alter it.
For his game two inspiration, KG needs to look no further than the last time he was up against Lebron James in the playoffs. Against Cleveland last spring, guarded largely by Antawn Jamison, whose defensive abilities are aptly described as Bosh-esque, KG put up the following totals:
There is no reason he can’t do the same thing this year.
And plenty of reasons why he has to.