Celtics searching for right dosage of Garnett


Celtics searching for right dosage of Garnett

WALTHAM Kevin Garnett is an integral part of what the Boston Celtics are about. He is their anchor on the interior at both ends of the floor.

But are the C's putting too big a burden on the Big Ticket?

KG has been the most dominant player in this series for the Celtics, averaging 20 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

But in Boston's Game 4 loss, a game in which Garnett only had nine points, it highlighted what an off-night for Garnett in this series looks like. He missed nine of 12 shots, easily the worst shooting night for Garnett in the playoffs as a member of the Celtics.

And with that, the series is now tied at 2-2 with Game 5 in Boston on Monday night.

Naturally, the Celtics will look to make some adjustments as they try to regain control of the series.

Getting Garnett more involved will certainly be among them.

To the Sixers credit, they did a much better job of forcing Garnett away from his comfort zones on the floor offensively, courtesy of more physical play from Elton Brand and rookie Lavoy Allen.

But the Celtics didn't make getting Garnett the ball nearly as big a priority as they had in previous games, which in turn helped the Sixers in their quest to limit Garnett's enormous impact on this series.

Going into Game 4, the Celtics were plus-47 when Garnett was on the floor. In Game 4, they were minus-2.

In the two losses, Garnett has averaged 12 shots taken per game compared to 18.5 in the two Celtic wins.

The two losses were both games in which Garnett's involvement was a major subplot to its outcome.

"Every time they went on runs, we took a jump-shot," said C's coach Doc Rivers.

But in the victories, Rivers added, "anytime we missed a couple shots, we went right back to the post."

Something that did not happen in Game 4.

Rivers understands that the Sixers will continue to try and limit Garnett and try to take away his impact on the game around the basket.

But the Celtics can not continue to be such a willing participant in Philly's efforts.

"They took it (C's inside game) away too, but we had a lot to do with it," Rivers said after the Game 4 loss. "We took it away. We took it away ourselves. We did more than settle; we just lost our composure. We stopped running our stuff. Whenever that happens, I always think that's me. I think that there is something the coach can do to slow them down, to get them back in their sets, to get them back in their rhythm, and I couldn't do it. To me, I always think that's my fault."

C's point guard Rajon Rondo believes he was part of the problem as well.

"I got to do a better job of slowing us down and getting us in our sets," Rondo said. "Demanding guys get in the right spots and execute offensively. I got to keep a calculation of when we're doing a good job at random and when we're not, and in that stretch when they went on a 15-2 run (in Game 4) we didn't do a good job. But in the first half we did make those shots. I got to know in the second half when we're not making those shots to slow it down."

Regardless of who is to blame, getting Garnett the ball remains a priority.

But finding that balance between getting him involved and not being overly predictable and thus easier to defend, remains one of the many challenges the C's face heading into Game 5.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.