Garnett's return to make big impact for C's

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Garnett's return to make big impact for C's

DETROIT The Boston Celtics are hoping for a different outcome when they face the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Having Kevin Garnett can only help.

Garnett did not play in Boston's 98-88 loss to Detroit on Wednesday because of a hip flexor injury.

The Celtics have had players banged up all season, so the idea of a starter being out is not a foreign concept to the C's.

But there are starters and then there's Kevin Garnett.

"Anytime he steps on the floor, he's capable of going for big numbers," Pistons center Ben Wallace, told CSNNE.com. "That factor alone, you gotta play him honest."

Despite being one of the league's elder statesman, there's no mistaking the impact that Garnett, 35, still can make on a game.

Bulls coach and former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is well-versed on all that is Kevin Garnett.

And while his numbers alone make him Hall-of-Fame worthy, those who have coached with and against him - folks like Thibodeau - understand that his value to a team is difficult to quantify.

"The thing about Kevin his numbers certainly speak for themselves," Thibodeau said. "But you can never measure that guy statistically, no matter how good his numbers are. He brings so many different things to winning. Leadership, intensity, gets the ball moving. often Kevin would be the guy swinging the ball side to side, even when he had a good shot to take."

And that selflessness, while appreciated, can sometimes be maddening for a coach.

Thibodeau remembers vividly how upset Celtics coach Doc Rivers would get sometimes when Garnett would pass on a wide open or lightly contested shot, and instead pass to a teammate.

"He (Garnett) just stays true to the game," Thibodeau said. "He's just a winner; he's going to do whatever he thinks it takes to win."

And if that means getting into the heads of young players like Charlie Villanueva, or Andray Blatche consider it done.

"He really doesn't care about the opponent," Rivers said. "He cares about his teammates. He'll do anything for his team to win."

That kind of approach sounds more like a backup player, then a Hall-of-Fame bound superstar.

"He's a superstar that plays like a role player," Rivers said. "And that's rare."

Foes alike recognize how Garnett's play tends to elevate the play of those around him.

"Just his presence is going to force teams to take notice that he's on the floor, and that helps his teammates out so much," Wallace said.

Garnett doesn't say much about his game as it stands now, or how it has evolved over time.

His words, much like his play, are simple but effective.

"I'm a skilled player that knows how to play, that looks forward to making other guys better," Garnett said. "I make the sacrifices for the betterment of the team. That's (who) I am."

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

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Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”