Garnett's the leading man with Celtics

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Garnett's the leading man with Celtics

When Mickael Pietrus hit the ground with such force that he suffered a Grade 3 concussion, he was there.

When Marquis Daniels collapsed to the ground, temporarily paralyzed on the parquet last season, he was there.

And when Rajon Rondo fell to the paint, fearing he had broken his elbow during last years playoffs, he was there.

Kevin Garnett is always there.

Over the past two seasons, the Boston Celtics have coped with frightening injuries on the court as well as medical conditions that required season-ending surgeries.

They were hit with tough news before they even reached Opening Day. In December, the Cs received news that Jeff Green would require season-ending heart surgery. Months later, they were given the same diagnosis for Chris Wilcox. Fast forward one week when they learned Jeramaine ONeal needed wrist surgery that would sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Throw in injuries that hampered nearly everyone else on the team at one point or another and the Celtics were faced with adversity and uncertainty throughout the entire season.

Through it all, one voice has kept his calm squad is these distressing times. The Celtics' intense leader on the floor has also been their emotional leader in the locker room.

See how Garnetts teammates have been impacted by his commitment and dedication to them along the way as they banded together and are making a postseason push.

Mickael Pietrus: Pietrus suffered a Grade 3 concussion in March against the Philadelphia 76ers. During his recovery, Garnett was one of many teammates to reach out to him. As his lockermate, Pietrus has quickly developed a close relationship with Garnett.

He really helped me. He helped me a lot. You know KG is going to look out for everybody in this locker room and thats why I told you before, that man is not about basketball. That man is all about life. Thats what I like about KG. He looks out for everybody in this locker room.

Rajon Rondo: The fiery point guard is no stranger to hitting the floor, but last season he suffered a more serious injury that left him fearing for the future of his career. When Rondo dislocated his left elbow during the Celtics' playoff series against the Miami Heat, Garnett was, once again, the voice that kept him calm.

He was the first down there to check on Pietrus. Hes a great teammate. I think he helps you focus and breathe. I remember when Marquis got hurt, he was very vocal. When MP got hurt, he was vocal. Every time I hit the floor, hes always telling me to take my time. I havent in as serious a situation as those guys, but I think it helped them stay focused and stay calm when you have somebodys voice you can hear and try not to panic.

You know what, a matter of fact? When I hurt my elbow, he just kept saying the same thing over and over again. I was trying to stay calm but I was worried if I was ever going to play again because I thought it was broken.

I think I learn from watching him as a teammate because hes not always going to be here . . . He just doesnt panic in those situations. Hes always calm and tries to give guys time. He wants to be that voice you can focus on. If anything is that serious, you can stay focused and listen to him and what hes telling you to do. Hes not a doctor but he does a better job than a lot of the doctors Ive seen.

Brandon Bass: Bass played on three NBA teams before joining the Celtics this season, yet he had never encountered a teammate as passionate as Garnett. In the months they have spent together, Bass has already been impacted by his fellow starter.
Kevin is an emotional, passionate guy. Thats what I love. Hes been like that since the first day I got here. When MP went down, he was there talking him through the whole thing. I know MP, he knew Kev would be there for him for life. Hes one of our vocal leaders and I would say the most passionate and emotional leaders, too . . . I havent played with anyone who is as serious and passionate vocally as him . . . A lot of our sayings around here all come from KG. When were down, one of his sayings is, Keep going. If he sees anybody having a bad game or struggling in any type of way, hell say, Keep going for the guys to keep going. He talks and he goes out and gives his best effort every night, so its easy to follow someone like that.

Avery Bradley: The soft-spoken, second-year guard has quietly been listening to Garnetts words of wisdom since joining the team last season. When talking about the veteran leadership of the Celtics, Bradley specifically mentioned Garnetts encouragement and motivation.

Whenever somebody fights through adversity, all it can do is make you better. Thats what were going to do. Kevin and those guys are going to lead us through it . . . We all feel like were all brothers in here, so we all care about each other and we all want each other to be successful . . . Im telling you, Kevin plays a big part in it. He says motivational stuff before the game. You can tell everybody is mentally prepared. Even when we didnt win, we came out so strong because our leader, hes prepared every game. He prepares the same way every single game. He takes every game seriously and it rubs off on his teammates . . . You know when its game time, when we get in the circle, he makes sure everybody is ready to play. It just shows his leadership.

Keyon Dooling: Dooling is known for being a top-notch locker room guy. He is big on character and treating his teammates well, which makes Garnetts actions resonate even more with him.

Kevin is Kevin. Kevin is pretty consistent in his disposition and his demeanor every day. Hes just an amazing, amazing person to be around. Hes been great . . . Adversity builds character, brings togetherness. Unfortunately weve had some hardships but weve handled them as a team about as good as you could handle it . . . I think thats the thing in professional athletics that gets lost. Sometimes were built up as really not being normal, and were about as normal as they come. Our job is just in a public forum. There are real-life situations going on. What Jeff went through earlier in the season, what Chris is going through, what MP went through, its a lot of hardships, a lot of adversity. But together, well get through it.

Garnett is averaging 17.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the first two games of the Celtics - Hawks series. He has played 40 minutes in each contest, including the entire fourth quarter in Tuesday's Game 2 win as the Celtics were shorthanded without Rondo (suspension) and Ray Allen (ankle).

Like many of his teammates, he is battling through bumps and bruises. Garnett, 35, is playing with a hip flexor.

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.