Post-game Reactions

Hyperbole aside, there’s some truth in that headline. Let’s explore.

Here are Doc Rivers’ postgame comments on Kevin Garnett playing the entire third quarter of game three:

“It was funny. You could tell he needed the break with two minutes left. About two minutes in the quarter and I know his run. His head’s bobbing; you could just see it. And I called a punch, a post play for him and he called it off and tried to call a movement play and I called it back. And I went right back and said, “No, we’re going to the post. To you.” And Kevin’s nuts because when he scored, he’s running down the court [saying] ‘Get the ball to me!’ And I’m laughing, I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do.’

Game three probably stands as KG’s best performance of the year.

In those frightening minutes before we knew Rajon Rondo was returning, Garnett was all over the defensive side of the court, contesting shots, providing weak side help. It was Garnett who took over the game emotionally (with an assist from Paul Pierce). It was Garnett who had to be talked out of seeking revenge against Dwayne Wade. And it was Garnett who tied his season-high with 28 points and set one with 18 rebounds.

Nobody on this Miami Heat team can really guard Garnett one-on-one. Chris Bosh has the requisite height but not the required intensity or strength. Joel Anthony is game but he’s too small. Udonis Haslem is in street clothes. And that’s just in single coverage. As Kevin Arnovitz noted in his recap of KG’s scores from game three, the threat of Pierce attacking, along with a batch of excellent screens by Jermaine O’Neal and KG himself, set up Garnett’s offense.

With Rondo hobbled, and Pierce and Ray Allen still facing exhausting covers, Garnett’s effectiveness is now utterly crucial to the C’s offense — and chances of winning this series.

There shouldn’t be any strategic failure. Everybody on this planet (Earth) knows that Doc wants KG shooting 20 times a game. And at least half of those people (Earthlings) know that Doc’s preferred shot selection for his PF involves KG rolling to the rim, and going at the rim from the post — with a spattering of turnaround jumpers and face-ups from the mid-range for balance.

(It’s here I’ll wistfully note that KG also has a lethal up-and-under move he brings out about three times a season and it’d be nice to see it tonight).

So, what’s standing in the way of a ‘Garnett dominates, eliminates Heat’ headline a week or so from now?

Short of Miami coming harder with a double-team, which will open up things for everyone else, I haveĀ  two concerns.

(Although it makes a lot of sense to double off Rondo now, doesn’t it?)

First, go check Doc’s quote again. The coach was calling the plays down the stretch in the third. Not the PG. Much more than Delonte West, Rondo has the authority to get in KG’s face and insist he get down on the block if, for example, the big guy waves off a play call. If Rondo ends up sitting due to his injury, everyone else in green better be all over Garnett to get after it down in the post.

Second, Garnett has to be physically capable of carrying that kind of offensive burden four more times in eight days. He’s averaging 37.3 minutes in the second round (up from 34.0 in the first). And versus-Miami minutes aren’t the same as versus-New York minutes. Will KG be able to deliver if he’s continually asked to provide the kind of offensive punch he did on Saturday night? Will his defense suffer?

Big questions for the rest of the series.

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Ryan DeGama

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  • AussieCeltic

    Great post! I am so excited about game 4. So many things to keep an eye out for. Bring it on!!

  • UhOh!!

    Those shouldnt even be questions how many times have we seen KG do something amazing??coming back from the knee injury monster double doubles clutch defense ect ect.. he can do this if we dont f*cking get away from the post and get jump shot happy(like we tend to).. regarless of what happens in this series these group of celtics will hold a special place in my heart just gritty grimey proud lion hearted old school (even the young guys)warriors they make me extremely proud to be a Cs fan its been an honor and pleasure watching the big 3 (era) turn into the big 4….

  • CarlosR

    KG has to go to the post, if not, the C's are going to lose tonight's game.

  • talesofJP

    Game 3 means nothing if we lose tonight, let Beat the Heat!

    • dslack

      It doesn't mean nothing. Game 3 was a wonderful display of Celtic Pride. It's entirely possible that the team is too beat up — now Rondo's elbow, too!?! — to hang with the young and talented Heat for 7 games, or maybe even for 6. I'd love to see them storm back and tie the series, and eventually win it. But if not, they still had their one shining moment and didn't go down in disgrace like the Lakers did.

      • Literally couldn't agree more. Thank you for phrasing my own thoughts better than me.

        • Chris O

          Thank you for thanking him before I did lol

  • Sweeney

    It is not so much how much he can score when he touches the ball in the post. It has more to do with the reaction of the Heat defense and KG making the right decisions. When the ball is in the post we are being the aggressors and good things happen.

    It is similar to when LBJ has the ball. Do we double immediately or show weakside help and goad him into jumper? Depending on how good we do that diminishes the effect of LBJ on the game.

  • francisco

    im begging for doc to remember the blazers game in portland from the reg season where KG played pg from the elbow and made everyone better. i think that game shows what he can do when we have no effective rondo and he has double teams down low.
    anyway, i expect KG to throw the team on his back in 3 of these 4 and come out ahead
    go celts

  • kricky

    It's not all on KG. The rest of the guys have to concentrate on getting KG the ball in the post/paint with good passes. We did this in Game 3, but not in the first two when they had trouble making those passes to get it to him in the right position.

  • I_Bleed_Green

    The one person who can stop KG is Rondo. All of KG’s one on one moves in the 3rd quarter came when Rondo is out of the game. Everyone is basically being double teamed in the low post when rondo is in the game because his defender is playing so far off of him. I really hope Doc plays D West more tonight to give KG more room down low to operate.

  • Chris O

    Honestly I don't think 'Miami minutes' are tougher than 'New York minutes' for KG. Bosh is an EASIER cover than Amar'e and the Heat actually play a slower brand of ball than the Knicks, meaning, essentially these 'minutes' are easier on KG. Now if you want to tell me these minutes are harder on Pierce (again borderline bcuz I think Melo is a tougher cover) and Ray Allen (definitely a tougher series for him) then I would agree.