Kevin Garnett: ‘I know what I have in there – I know who’s willing to fight’
|04.08.13 at 12:02 am ET|
Kevin Garnett knew coach Doc Rivers and trainer Ed Lacerte would be watching his every move Sunday night.
Playing for the first time since inflammation and bone spurs in the left foot caused him to sit out eight games, Garnett paced himself and scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards, 107-96, at TD Garden.
“I felt okay,” Garnett said of playing for the first time since March 22 in Dallas. “I felt strong enough to play. I felt decent in my minutes and I picked and choosed when I was aggressive. I did the things I typically do. That was it. I told Ed that if I felt like I couldn’t go that I wouldn’t push myself but Doc has a lot of trust in what I’m doing. We were on the same page so so far so good.”
Rivers said the situation, as it turned out, was ideal for Garnett’s return – that is, 24 minutes in a low pressure environment.
“I thought he was really good, really good,” Rivers said. “And I thought his rhythm was good early. I was surprised how well he was running; I noticed that [Saturday] in practice. We did all fast-break stuff and I was just doing it for him, just so he could blow his lungs out, and I was surprised how well he was running. So that was good. And I don’t know what we played him – 24 minutes – that’s, I mean, you couldn’t script that. That was perfect. Actually I wanted 20, but 25 was what I didn’t want to go.”
Garnett was 6-of-9 from the field and was able to defend well, posting a plus-8 while on the court. While Paul Pierce was busy pointing out how important Garnett’s presence is to Boston’s postseason hopes, Garnett was focused instead on the way the rest of his team is playing.
“It doesn’t matter what line-up goes or who’s on the floor as long as we’re playing the right way,” Garnett said. “That’s all my concern is. Just making sure that we’re sharing the ball, playing as a team, giving up for each other, playing defensively, being one voice, one sound – those are the things that are most important.”
What Garnett really appreciated Sunday night was the fact that Brandon Bass had 20 points in a team-leading 36 minutes, taking most of the pressure off Garnett in his return.
“I thought Brandon was in a nice rhythm – picked and choosed,” Garnett said. “I thought he was very aggressive, took his shots, was very poised. Defensively, he was talkative. The consistency is the thing I always like to always point out. So we can make sure consistently we don’t just do it for a game or against Washington but against everybody else. That’s what we’re trying to get to. But so far, so good.”
Garnett was very appreciative of the work Jeff Green has done in his place, picking up a big part of the scoring slack. But he didn’t stop there, signaling out Avery Bradley and Shav Randolph.
“Jeff Green is giving us a huge lift, I think Avery’s giving us a huge lift,” Garnett said. “Shav is playing unbelievable basketball. I think he’s found his little niche in here. That’s what you need. You need a good strong 11, if not eight, whatever the rotation is. We have some chemistry and rhythm with that group.”
As for Pierce’s playoff projection with Garnett?
“I’ve always felt better,” he said. “I know what I have in there, I know who’s willing to fight, who’s not going to lay down. I’d take a bunch of fighters over some skill people any day.
“It feels good to be on the floor.”