OFFSEASON

Gortat: Celtics "weaker" this year

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Gortat: Celtics "weaker" this year

BOSTON -- The memories haven't faded for Marcin Gortat. Two years after leaving the Orlando Magic, he still has not forgotten about the heated playoff games against the Boston Celtics.

When he returned to TD Garden on Friday night with the Phoenix Suns, he took all those games with him on the court. And then he dropped a game-high 24 points.

Usually I have great games against Boston, he said following the Suns 79-71 win. Every time Im coming here, it brings those memories from Orlando when we were battling here every year. Three games here, four games at home, or four game here, three at home. End of the year was always Boston. We had to battle these guys to get to the NBA Finals.

Last season, his first with the Suns, he averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds in two games against the Celtics. Fridays 24 points were one short of tying his career-high. He credited his teammates for getting him open and point guard Steve Nash for getting him the ball in the right spots.

I think we just did everything harder than Boston. That was the main thing. We battled, we ran the break, we had a lot of energy, and that was the most important thing, he said, adding, I feel easy to score on everybody with Steve Nash.

After becoming familiar with the Celtics over the years, Gortat noticed some changes in his opponent. Without Kendrick Perkins, he says their defense may be a bit weaker but they have improved their offense. He also noted the bench has several new faces, and he pointed out just that -- their newness to the team.

I think the new additions of the team, I dont think they know all the rotations, he said. Its going to probably take a while before they learn everything.

At the same time, he believes the veteran core are still going strong, especially Kevin Garnett. The only difference is, he is also getting stronger as the seasons go on.

They look great to me, Gortat said of the Celtics trio of Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. I wish to be in KGs shoes. Dont understand me wrong. He has a championship, hes a great player. Theyre going to have up and downs. Theyre not 18 years old anymore or 25. Im entering my prime years, Im 27 right now and obviously its going to be difficult for them to guard me. Im going to put up a lot of energy. Its not like Im a rookie, Im not making stupid mistakes anymore. Its just going to be a good tough game. Im going to compete with those guys.

On Friday night, he made that clear.