Garnett proves he can still score when called upon

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Garnett proves he can still score when called upon

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Kevin Garnett has amassed more points than all but 24 players to ever play in the NBA.

And yet when folks talk about Garnett and the impact he has on the Boston Celtics, it seems to always begin and end with defense.

Garnett doesn't mind, of course.

He'll be the first to tell you that it's his defense, more than anything else, that defines who he is as a player.

But every now and then, KG reminds us all that when motivated, he can score with the best of them.

Garnett put on a scoring clinic in helping the Celtics sweep the Knicks out of the playoffs.

In the decisive Game 4 matchup at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, Garnett scored a team-high 26 points, which included six of the C's last eight points, to secure a 101-89 win.

With a second-round series likely to begin this weekend against the Miami Heat, similar efforts might be needed from the Big Ticket.

However, you're not going to see or hear Garnett demand the ball.

If anything, he'll demand to switch out defensively on a red-hot player on the other team, like he did in Game 2 when New York's Carmelo Anthony lit up the Celtics for 42 points in a losing effort.

When it comes to scoring, Garnett is more likely to be talked into being more of a scorer, than him actually taking the initiative and command the ball be thrown to him.

Sunday's Game 4 win over the Knicks was no exception.

"I don't get on Kevin often, but on Sunday . . . he was so pass-conscious because of the trapping," coach Doc Rivers said. "We had times where there were point guards on him. We just wanted him to be aggressive."

Being aggressive is not an issue for Garnett. You see it in the way he defends. But when it comes to scoring, Garnett tends to defer to his teammates.

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders used to coach Garnett in Minnesota. He wasn't the least bit surprised at Garnett's willingness to get shots for teammates as opposed to himself after being traded to Boston.

"He doesn't care about points," Saunders told CSNNE.com. "Defense is what drives him, what makes him who he is."

But at 6-foot-11, Garnett has the ability to score around the basket with the best of them, in addition to knocking down jumpers in pick-and-pop situations.

And just in case you forgot, Garnett delivers a performance like the one he had in Game 4 to serve as a reminder.

"People forget, the guy can score," said Celtics forward Jeff Green. "He's been doing it his whole career. He's known for his passion that he brings to the game and his defensive intensity. But if you leave him open, he's going to knock down the shot."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”