Garnett's defense the difference vs. Miami


Garnett's defense the difference vs. Miami

MIAMI When you look at the names (Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf) and see how significant an edge Kevin Garnett has on both players, you'd be nuts not to try and bully them in the post as much as you can with Garnett.

He's averaging 20.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in this series, which is huge when you consider how neither team puts up a lot of points to begin with.

But as much as Garnett has worked them over with his scoring, he has been even better in terms of what he's brought to the table defensively.

In Boston's 93-91 Game 4 win, it was Garnett's defense -- maybe more than anything else -- that was a major factor in the C's bolting out to such a commanding lead.

"He was single-handedly a single-man zone for us," said coach Doc Rivers. "He was amazing. Then he did it again in overtime."

That has been the Kevin Garnett way of doing things.

Whatever the team needs, I'll deliver.

Look no further than the move the Celtics made in putting him at center. To this day, he'll tell you he hates being an NBA center.

But when you look at the production, his ability to impact the game in ways that for most teams are unmatched, speaks to how committed he is to doing whatever is needed.

"Kevin is our best defender," said Rajon Rondo. "That's not a secret. When he's out there, obviously our pluses are a lot better. He does so many little things on the floor as far as helping on everyone. He's our best communicator. He's our best, you know, defensive rebounder. He does it all."

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

BOSTON – The Al Horford love fest continues with the veteran big man delivering yet another impressive performance for the Boston Celtics.

And this one?

Unlike his play in the preseason, Wednesday night's game counts.

Horford’s all-around play was pivotal to Boston holding on for a 122-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

The four-time All-Star made several high-basketball IQ-type plays that in hindsight, were major key moments in Boston pushing its lead to as many as 23 points.

In the third quarter with Boston ahead 71-65, Horford took advantage of Brooklyn closing out too hard on him and drove into the lane. As the Nets defenders collapsed to take away a shot attempt in the lane, Horford swung the ball to Jae Crowder whose jumper triggered a 14-5 run.

Boston would lead by double figures until the last couple of minutes of the game.

“We have to keep playing the right way, for 48 minutes,” Horford said when asked about the team’s late-game collapse.

The late-game struggles aside, there was a lot to like about how the Celtics played throughout the first 40 minutes.

And a big part of that strong play has to be credited to Horford whose ability to help keep the ball moving allowed the Celtics to finish with 36 assists on 48 made field goals, the kind of opening night assist numbers that haven’t been seen around these parts in decades.

Horford was among those getting into the act, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

To see him racking up guard-like assist numbers isn’t unusual when you consider he was third in the league last season in assists per game (3.2) for a center.

“Guys were moving the ball very well,” Horford said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Said Crowder: “I never saw coaches clap on a three-second call. We moved the ball in the first quarter so much we got a three-second call. We passed up a lot of open shots. It just shows how unselfish we are playing as a unit.”

And while that selfless brand of basketball was on display at times last season, the addition of Horford seems to have taken it to another level.

“He opens the floor, he makes it easier for everybody; he’s always in the right spots, he’s a threat at all times,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He can hit the 3, hit the mid-range, and also post up so he has the full package; a guy that makes it easy for everybody.”