Our Boston Celtics escaped Orlando with an OT win over the Magic, and while there were many contributors to the cause, it’s important to note that Kevin Garnett turned in the kind of performance that helped to make a difference. KG was solid on D, but we knew that was going to be the case. Defense – and defensive intensity – are the things you can bank on night in, night out when it comes to the Big Ticket. But at Garnett’s age, what you can’t depend on are the things that happen on the other end of the court. There are going to be some nights when KG lays the proverbial offensive egg – I won’t get into specifics – and then there are nights when Garnett is feeling the flow.
Last night was one of those occasions.
Garnett played 36 minutes. He scored 24 points – and he did so on 10-17 from the floor, and 4-5 from the free throw line. Those are the kinds of numbers that the Celtics are going to need consistently from Garnett, especially with Jeff Green struggling and the Celtics once again deficient in the size category.
No, Garnett doesn’t need to average 24 points per game – those days are long gone. But what Garnett needs to do is shoot a high percentage.
That’s a lot to ask of a big man who has pretty much abandoned any semblance of a low post game. These days Garnett can be found roaming the perimeter on the offensive end of the court, relying on his length and excellent shooting touch to knock down shots from distance.
And what that’s fine, at least in theory, it also helps when Garnett is actually making shots.
Therein lies the rub.
Doc Rivers has famously chosen transition defensive over offensive rebounds, in large part because he knows Garnett is the team’s best big, and that KG won’t be spending much time battling underneath the basket. So if KG misses a jumper, KG & Co. should be prepared to hurry back and defend. And in order to make Doc’s strategy successful, Boston needs to shoot a high percentage. Made shots mean no opportunities for the opponent to rebound and run.
And that’s where Garnett and his shoot touch come in.
On nights like last night the Celtics were able to escape with a win, and the correlation between the W and KG’s field goal percentage is no coincidence. The question now becomes: Can Garnett continue to summon these types of performances? Can he deliver an 8-of-12 night, and then a 10-of-18 night, and then an 11-17 night?
Those types of shooting percentages are unrealistic night in, night out, especially from an aging big man who gives so much on the defensive end. But until the rest of the shooters come around on a consistent basis – namely Jeff Green and Courtney Lee – Garnett will feel the pressure to excel on both ends of the court.
Until then, we ride the Big Ticket and hope for the best.