Five Things We Learned: Time to worry about KG
|04.14.09 at 11:03 pm ET|
It is now permissible to be worried about Kevin Garnett. Not time to freak out, necessarily, but worried? Yup.
A week ago, KG was supposed to make his return against the Sixers. He did not, obviously. Before that he was supposed to sit out a game or two and be back for Charlotte. That was two weeks ago. Once the Celtics clinched the No. 2 seed, they had no reason to push him back on the court, and while it’s hard to argue with that decision, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Garnett is not 100 percent and probably won’t be in time for the playoffs.
The Celtics sent him home for more treatment and quotes like, “not progressing the way we would like,” and “needs more time,” do not bode well. At this point, it’s fair to say no one outside the team really knows how Garnett’s knee is doing, and while it’s conceivable that he could come out for Game 1 of the playoffs, wreak havoc for 35 or so minutes and have a big laugh at everyone’s expense, it just doesn’t seem likely.
1) PAUL PIERCE GETS HIS 3 ON
Without Garnett and without Ray Allen, there wasn’t a lot to take from Tuesday’s game with the Sixers (recap here), but Paul Pierce’s 3-point barrage was a good sign for the Celtics. Pierce has shot fewer 3-pointers per 36 minutes than at any other point in his career, but he has shot them effectively, making 38 percent.
Pierce made seven of nine 3-pointers Wednesday, (shades of 2002?) and had his step-back jumper working to perfection. The Truth is ready for the playoffs and so are…
The only important thing for the Celtics was getting some extended minutes for Tony Allen and working Leon Powe back into the action. Good results on both counts. Allen played 38 minutes and scored 18 points, displaying an aggressiveness that has been largely absent from his play during his comeback. Powe, meanwhile, was efficient, scoring 10 points in 14 minutes.
3) THE SIXERS DON’T RUN AS MUCH AS YOU THINK
Kenny Smith tried to make the argument that the Sixers reminded him of the Hawks because they’re young (but they’re not as young as Atlanta), they’re athletic (true, but they’re not that athletic) and they run (whoops).
You will hear about a thousand times between now and Saturday if the Celtics wind up playing the Sixers that Philly likes to run, but here’s the deal: In terms of pace — that is the number of possessions per game — the Sixers rank 22nd in the NBA. In other words, they play slower than Memphis, slower than Houston and (yes) slower than the Celtics.
Bringing the halftime conversation full circle, everyone agreed that the Sixers aren’t as good as the Hawks last season. A little perspective, please. Atlanta won 37 games last year and got blown out four times in Boston during the playoffs. They played great three times at home and have made a nice jump last year, but let’s not pretend that anyone thought the Hawks were “good” last season, and the comparison between last year’s Hawks and this year’s Sixers doesn’t hold up.
4) SEVENTH SEED SHAKE-UP
The Sixers came into last night’s game holding the tiebreaker over Chicago for the sixth seed. They leave a game down with one to play and are staring at a road date with Cleveland tomorrow. If the Bulls beat Toronto at home tomorrow, they will be a trendy pick to beat Orlando in the first round, but that’s a story for another day.
So, it looks like it will be Philly in the first round and while the thought of a renewed Celtics-Sixers rivalry is enticing, the early line here is that this is the scenario Boston wanted all along. They avoid Detroit, and swoon or no swoon, every time the Celtics play the Pistons, it’s a struggle. They avoid Chicago, who is white hot and they avoid Miami and D Wade.
Not to mention, the Celtics are 4-0 against Philly this year, travel will be easier and there isn’t a single matchup that clearly favors the Sixers.
5) SUPERFERLOUS CHARLES BARKLEY QUOTE
“(The Celtics are) gonna beat them like they stole something. Starting this weekend.”
I’m just surprised Joey Crawford didn’t T up Sir Charles. He got everyone else.