Celtics need vintage KG to win East
It sounds like someone is knocking on the door, but that's Kevin Garnett's index finger repeatedly pounding the plastic table as he briefly fields questions following Boston's 83-78 home loss to Orlando on Friday night.
Frustrated. Agitated. Both would fit Garnett's demeanor. And who could blame him after getting his first crack at the Magic after sitting with a knee injury for all of Boston's seven-game postseason series with them last spring?
Because even with a solid 13-point, 11-rebound showing, Garnett didn't fully look like the player he used to be before knee surgery. He hasn't all season.
"He's healthy, but one day he's explosive, one day he's not," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "That's just going to take time. And we know that.
"Obviously you would love ... if you could pick tonight, say 'Tonight we need you to be explosive; tomorrow, we don't need you.'"
If the Celtics are going to beat the Magic in a seven-game series, they are going to need him. Not just back on the court, but back.
The first step is that Garnett, 33, is playing now, deemed fit after offseason knee surgery. He makes the Celtics longer, leaner — not to mention meaner — and better equipped to handle an Orlando lineup stuffed with matchup problems. No longer will the Magic have free reign in the paint with Kendrick Perkins occupied by Dwight Howard, nor can Rashard Lewis run Glen Davis ragged on the perimeter and shoot over defenders on the blocks.
"It's a big difference," Perkins said. "Kevin can go out and guard Lewis. [He] could show on the pick and roll and get back to him. When they were isolating [Davis] last year and sometimes myself with Rashard, it was a tough matchup for both of us."