There were two players who did a better job than Kevin Garnett as the Boston Celtics embraced their aging and injure-prone big man after more than two weeks off the court. Avery Bradley did an amazing defensive job on the red-hot John Wall while Brandon Bass put in what might have been his best offensive performance of the season. And still, with Paul Pierce having a bad night, the KG energy was inside the arena, pushing the Celtics to play better than they have without him.
Garnett, who didn’t play since March 22, missing 8 games (in which the Celtics went 3-5), finished with 12 points on a 6-9 shooting day, playing 24 minutes, adding 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. While it wasn’t anywhere near what they need for him to pull off an upset in what looks like a Celtics – Knicks series in the first round of the playoffs, it’s better having Garnett on the floor than the other poor options the Celtics have instead, summed up by Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph.
Things flow a lot smoother when Kevin and Paul are out there because everything’s being run through them and everybody else is just getting what they get from them, So it’s a lot better when they’re out on the court.
One of the biggest surprises in the 107-96 win was Brandon Bass, a power forward with excellent positioning and offensive awareness on his good days, but has been having a disappointing season with only 8.5 points per game. Against the Wizards, with a slow Okafor and Nene defending the paint, Bass had no problem getting behind the defense time and time again, finishing with 20 points on 9-12 from the field, going 20 or more for only the second time this season.
Avery Bradley might have been the real MVP of the win, by stopping John Wall who has been putting up incredible numbers lately. Bradley, making a case this season as one of the best defenders in the NBA, stopped Wall at only 16 points (plus 10 assists), making 8-20 from the field while turning the ball over three times. The Wizards have been having a playoff-worthy record since the return of Wall this season, but when he’s not on his game, they don’t stand even against a mediocre team like the Celtics, who seem to find ways to win thanks to smart coaching and intelligent players, regardless of their scoring talent and wow factor, which is good enough to crawl into the postseason once again.