Kevin Garnett turns 36 on Saturday, a youthful age for any man,
except for the rare ones with nearly 55,000 punishing minutes
absorbed on an NBA floor.
Garnett knows all the ageist labels attached to the Boston
Celtics. How they’re called The Over The Hill Gang, and the
wisecracks about flashing AARP cards before they check into a game,
and how each crucial postseason game raises questions about The Big
Three’s last hurrah.
The Celtics have known since training camp a championship run
centered around Garnett, 36-year-old Ray Allen, and 34-year-old
Paul Pierce was on its last legs.
Aging legs, yes.
But far from finished.
Garnett displayed dominant proof in Boston’s Game 3 rout against
the Philadelphia 76ers. He scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds
to help the Celtics snare a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference
The Sixers under-25 crew had no way to slow down Garnett.
He made 12 of 17 shots in Game 3 and is shooting 63 percent
overall in the series.
Let others get nostalgic for the stretch run of Boston’s
terrific trio. Garnett only cares about winning the next game, the
next series, and another championship to pair with the one The Big
Three clinched in 2008.
”I’m focused on the playoffs,” Garnett said Thursday. ”I
haven’t given much thought to it. I’m definitely aware of it. We
know what the possibilities are. But at this point, right now, it’s
Garnett heard a few screams of ”We love you, Kevin!” from
passing fans as he answered questions alongside Pierce outside the
Four Seasons Hotel.
The chants should be more antagonistic in Game 4 Friday in
Garnett will tune them out the way he’s zoned out the light
attempts at defense the Sixers have thrown at him. Even at 35 (or
36), Garnett is still more mobile than Philadelphia’s frontcourt
combo of Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand. Lavoy Allen’s foul troubles
have limited his guarding Garnett.
”You have to do a better job early,” Sixers coach Doug Collins
said. ”You can’t let him get such deep position. You can’t let him
run underneath the rim, turn and face the basket. You have to meet
him at the free throw line.”
Pierce was slowed by an MCL injury in his left knee, until a
gutsy 24-point, 12-rebound outing in Game 3. Allen scored only
three points and has been secure enough in letting Garnett, Pierce
and Rajon Rondo handle the scoring load that he turned down KG’s
offer to get him more touches.
Garnett told Allen: ”We’ve got to do whatever we can to get you
”I looked at him and said, `Kevin, you’re the guy getting
shots. You’re the guy that’s scoring. We just won by 20. I don’t
need to, for the sake of my ego, do anything like that. We just
keep doing what we’re doing. If they keep guarding us this way,
then you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing.”’
Garnett and Allen are free agents at the end of the season. A
championship run that seemed blocked by young-gun All-Stars eased
up with Chicago out of the picture. The Miami Heat are without
Chris Bosh indefinitely. And the Sixers showed in Game 3 how
vulnerable they are when a top team is clicking.
Pierce realizes the sense of urgency to win a championship with
the trio playing their final games together. They want to make it
”We’ve realized that from Day 1. I think pretty much the last
couple of years we’ve been feeling like that,” Pierce said. ”But
the influence is to try and win another championship, regardless of
if this is going to be our last time together. Who knows what the
future is going to hold for all of us?”
The Sixers, meanwhile, are trying to find a way to slow down the
They looked totally lost after the first quarter. The Sixers
weren’t hitting shots and the defense couldn’t bail them out with
key stops. Starters Brand, Hawes and Evan Turner combined for only
”It was a little embarrassing because you don’t want to put on
a showing like that, and definitely at home,” guard Jrue Holiday
said. ”At the same time, it’s motivation to not do it again.”
Collins showed the Sixers game film from the first half on
Thursday and the reviews weren’t pretty. What they saw was a team
that never had a grip on their defensive assignments. The Sixers
offered little resistance once Garnett got hot in the second
quarter (13 points) with a flurry of 10- to 16-foot fadeaways and
”I never considered them old,” Collins said. ”They sure
looked pretty young to me. Garnett’s playing great.”
Just how the Celtics like it.
”I don’t know if I’m surprised. It’s in him,” coach Doc Rivers
said. ”He’s feeling pretty good. he’s at a great place mentally.
That’s always nice. I think our guys understand how important he is
to our team. He understands that as well. It’s just great. I’m
happy for him.”