When Kevin Garnett came to the Celtics in 2008, he helped change the team culture by not putting up with excuses. He wanted his ring and this team was going to get him there — don’t pull your own weight at your own risk. To this day he still talks a good game.
But this year the Celtics are off to a 4-7 start after Saturday’s loss to the Pacers — and part of the problem is Kevin Garnett has been just average.
His shooting percentage fell from 52.8 percent last season to 48.5 percent this year. He is rebounding less and turning the ball over more. He is getting about one fewer shots per game at the rim than last year and the long two pointer he used to knock down steadily is falling 41 percent of the time, down from 47 percent last year. (Stats via Hoopdata.)
Is it his sore ankle? A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com wondered after the Celtics latest loss Saturday but this is what happened when he was asked about it.
“Y’all have a good night,” Garnett said in ending his post-game interview.
Doc Rivers has gone to using Garnett in a “5-5-5” system — give KG three different five-minute stretches per half so his ankle isn’t aggravated. That hasn’t worked, as Blakely pointed out.
The problem so far, Rivers said, has been Garnett being ineffective for the bulk of the five-minutes, but seemingly turning it on shortly before he is to be subbed out.
“Three times (against Chicago), giving you nothing for about four minutes,” Rivers said. “And then right at the fifth minute when he comes out, he makes a shot. And then your every impulse, keep him in. Then you risk the rest of the game. So it’s just a tough call right now. I still like it; I don’t love it, but it’s what we have to do.”
The Boston Celtics are Rajon Rondo’s team now, but they are going to need quality play from the big three to make it work — to go after one more banner — and while Ray Allen has been impressive Garnett and Paul Pierce (who has seen his PER has dropped from borderline All-Star level of 19.7 to an average 15.4 (the league average is 15). This is a veteran team and three weeks into the season is far too early to write them off — and you do not blow this team up now. This is the kind of team that can rebound.
But it is going to take KG and PP finding something close to their old selves for Boston to even make the playoffs, let alone be a threat in them.