He wasn’t supposed to be this good this year, but Kevin Garnett, at 36, is still playing like the best big men in the NBA. He led the Boston Celtics with 26 points and 13 rebounds as they turned the series upside down, won 94-90 in Miami and now have a 3-2 lead over the Heat, with a potential series clincher at home on Thursday.
The two biggest plays for the Celtics didn’t involve Garnett. One was pure luck, although Doc Rivers didn’t like it being referred to as that. Brandon Bass went up for a dunk, but got rejected, beautifully by Dwyane Wade. On the loose ball was Rajon Rondo, managing to tip it sideways to Mikael Pietrus, nailing a huge three pointer.
Second big play? The Celtics were up 87-86, with Paul Pierce, on a rough shooting night (6-19) goes up for a three pointer as LeBron James backs off a bit instead of sticking to Pierce. The 2008 NBA Finals’ MVP pulls up for the three and drains it. The Celtics won the game that moment.
So Garnett wasn’t involved in the two big ‘Clutch’ plays for the Boston Celtics, but he was there all throughout the game. Their big third quarter; In the way he makes LeBron James and Dwyane Wade think twice before they drive in the paint, because the Heat didn’t have anyone to draw him outside. Chris Bosh did play for 14 minutes and scored 9 points, but at this point, Erik Spoelstra is willing to do anything to save his job. Even throw in an unprepared Bosh.
And Game 6 becomes do or die for Spoelstra, more than anyone. Because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be here next year as well, going for another title, hopefully without any injuries to their co-star, and with an upgraded squad, if there are any possible upgrades to do. Spoelstra? It’s not enough that Wade and James aren’t his biggest fans. He simply didn’t deliver the goods, especially in creating something resembling an offensive identity.
Nearly two seasons in the big three era, and it still seems completely reliant on creating turnovers, transition offense and the mood LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are in. There’s only so much super-effort the two can exert and give while nothing’s happening around them. It was enough to go through the Pacers, but it feels like the Celtics are a bit too much at the moment.
No one wrote off the Celtics, but the way the Miami Heat played in games 4-6 against Indiana and their opening two wins against the Celtics in this series suggested that even without Bosh, having the two most talented players in the series was probably enough. The Celtics didn’t blow out the Heat at any point. But they have more balance and more people to step up. Rajon Rondo was terrible with his shooting, but the Heat’s inability to handle Kevin Garnett makes all the difference.
Garnett looked like a finished player not too long ago. Apparently, it was just an injury he overcame. He’s not the same KG from 2004, the best player in the NBA back then. He’s a lot less likable as well, for people outside of the Boston Celtics circles at least. Plenty of times for good reason. But he’s a terrific basketball player, with a lot of heart, who took over a position he never loved playing in. He’s no MVP anymore, but he’s good enough to take a team to the NBA finals.