Garnett embracing his new teammates


Garnett embracing his new teammates

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Like most NBA veterans, Kevin Garnett is a creature of habit.

So when his routine is thrown off, he's not going to be happy.

But Garnett is no dummy.

He understands that no matter how much he may want things to stay as they are, change is inevitable.

A delayed flight or a traffic jam, that's one thing.

Trading away Kendrick Perkins, that's an entirely different matter.

While it may not have been the change Garnett wanted, slowly but surely he has come to terms with the move.

"It's been a crazy week. People don't really think about the emotions, the connections you make in this game and the friends you make on the way in this journey when you're in the league," Garnett said. "It's difficult at times, to be honest with you."

But the play and personas of a pair of new Celtics, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, have made the transition smoother. Garnett's next challenge will be getting used to playing with Troy Murphy, who on Tuesday agreed to sign with the Celtics over the Miami Heat. A deal isn't expected to be finalized until sometime on Wednesday.

As for Green and Krstic, both acquired on Thursday from Oklahoma City in exchange for Perkins and Nate Robinson, the C's have won both games since they joined the team prior to Saturday's win at the Los Angeles Clippers.

Green, the centerpiece acquisition for the Celtics, has shown glimpses of the versatility that made him a player the C's coveted well before Thursday's trade. In two games off the bench, he has averaged six points and 1.5 rebounds in 18 minutes per game.

Garnett is apparently a big fan of his game as well.

"Jeff is probably one of the most versatile guys I've been around," Garnett said. "He's uh, it just looks like . . . he's effortlessly . . . he does a lot of things . . . he just makes it look simple. I can't put it into words right now. I'm glad he's an addition to our team."

Garnett has plenty of praise for Krstic, who is affectionately referred to as "Chris."

In two games - both as a starter - Krstic has averaged 10 points, 5.5 rebounds while averaging 25.5 minutes per game.

"Chris is very versatile," Garnett said. "I didn't know he was that good an offensive rebounder. He's very active. Just gotta learn little small things about them, what they like to do. I'm pretty sure we're going to be OK with those guys."

Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur has competed against Krstic and Green when they played for Oklahoma City. Knowing how they play, and how the Celtics have played in recent years, Okur believes all involved will benefit from this unexpected union.

"Jeff is really versatile, can cause a lot of problems because he can play well against bigger or smaller guys on him," Okur told "And Krstic, he's not as good a defender as Perkins, but he's not bad, either. He's probably a better scorer around the basket, and he has good range for a big man. The Celtics are a really good team, and those two guys are going to help them be even better."

And while the C's will move on in what's sure to be a Perkins-free future, it's going to take them all - Garnett, especially - to get used to it.

"I got my own feelings about Perk, because he's a brother," Garnett said. "But I'm embracing this new relationship with Jeff and Krstic."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
How different is anyone's guess.
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."