Garnett is back and the Celtics aren't going anywhere


Garnett is back and the Celtics aren't going anywhere

And just like that, Kevin Garnett is back.

The sweat. The screams. The chest-bumping and trash-talking. The glasses. The glare. The energy that gets you so hyped its like walking around shirtless in a thunderstorm, waving a metal bat and daring the lightning to come get some.

The ridiculous analogies.

It's all back.

Kevin Garnett is back.

For three more years!

Maybe. But at the very least: one more year! And after a few weeks spent wondering if we'd ever see him again, one is enough. What more could we ask for?

When he arrived five years ago, no one imagined it would play out like this. Back then, KG was foreign to us. He was barely even real. He was one of the biggest superstars in the NBA for a generation of fans, one of the coolest athletes in the world and guys like that didn't come to Boston. These days, Garnett not only plays for the Celtics, but he is a Celtic.

Twenty years from now, when people talk about KG, which team will they think of?

Which Garnett will they think of first: The kid who spent 12 years toiling in Minnesota, or the man who spent six, seven or maybe even eight years battling LeBron, Kobe, Dirk, Duncan and Dwight in the NBA's version of Game of Thrones?

I'm sure there are some who will still say Minny; who will always remember KG as that young, flashy, fierce but playful kid they grew up with. But I doubt they'll be the majority.

Kevin Garnett is a Celtic and I mean that in the most historic sense.

I mean that at this point, No. 5 belongs in the rafters.

He saved the Celtics five years ago. He took them from a middle of the road team which they were even after the Ray Allen trade and made them contenders. He brought basketball back to Boston. He brought the Celtics back from the dead.

On Saturday, he extended their life for at least one, but potentially three more years.

From now until July 11, youll hear the Celtics mentioned in conjunction with an endless list of free agents: Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Ray Allen, Greg Stiemsma, OJ Mayo, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Richard Dumas, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, Gheorghe Muresan, Sonny Weems, Michael Beasley, JR Rider.

But the truth is: Regardless of what happens with the list, it will be OK. Thanks to the return of Kevin Garnett his skills, leadership and salary and assuming that Danny Ainge doesn't somehow suddenly lose his mind, the Celtics have the foundation and flexibility to keep up with the James's. They're still contenders. The three-year plan is going strong at six.

We may never know exactly how close we came to losing that, how close he really was to walking away, but at this point it barely matters.

KG is back.

And the Celtics aren't going anywhere.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Catch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers at home and hear from Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford.

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.

“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”

And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.

In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.

For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.

Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.

“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”

And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.

Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.

You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?

Uh … nope!

“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”

Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).

“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”

The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.

The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.

“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”

Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.

“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”