KG still center of attention

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KG still center of attention

This morning on CSNNE's Facebook page, we posed the following question:

If Jeff Green and Avery Bradley were healthy all season, would the Heat still be on the doorstep of winning a championship?

My answer: Beats me.

I mean, you can certainly make an argument that the Celtics were a better team with a healthy Avery Bradley, but that doesn't guarantee victory. Dwyane Wade wasn't that much of an issue anyway it was LeBron. And Bradley wasn't making a difference there.

And as for Green? Really, who knows. The guy didn't play a minute all season. If he had, there's probably no Mickael Pietrus. If he had, maybe Doc starts Rondo, Pierce, Green, Bass and KG after Ray Allen's injury and Bradley never even gets a chance.

What about a healthy Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and the Celtics against healthy Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the Bulls? In that case, does Boston even make it to Miami?

Probably not, but that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to mention one of the comments we got in response to the original GreenBradley Facebook question:

What about if Ainge hadn't traded Perk for Green and we had Bradley and Perk all season...two top tier defenders. Even better.
At this point, I think most of us have made peace with the Kendrick Perkins trade. After all, while there's no doubt that the deal demolished last year's chemistry and made it impossible for Boston to win a title, Rondo's elbow injury rendered the whole argument moot.

They could have had a healthy Shaq, a healthy Perk and 2005 Jermaine O'Neal on that team, and one-armed Rondo was still too much to overcome. But every once in a while, I'll still hear arguments like the one above which contend that the Celtics would currently stand in a better position if they'd not only kept Perk, but somehow found a way to sign him to an extension.

Debunking that argument is easy.

Question 1: What was the No. 1 factor in the Celtics second half turnaround this year?

Answer 1: Moving Kevin Garnett to center.

Question 2: Does Kevin Garnett make the move to center if Perk is still with the Celtics.

Answer 2: NO.

Translation: While the Perk trade might have been a disaster in 2011, it worked out for the best in 2012. It may very well be the reason that KG's in a position to extend his career.

Of course, the million dollar (or maybe 15-million-dollar) question is: Will he?

Will Kevin Garnett comeback?

Yesterday on WEEI, Danny Ainge said that he doesn't know. That basically, KG is still deciding whether he wants to play at all. And while it hasn't been discussed too much within the whole "WillWon't He" dynamic, I wouldn't be surprised if the issue of playing center still lies at the heart of KG's indecision.

Make no mistake, KG does not like playing the 5. He's said at numerous times during his career; he said numerous times this year, after he was already there.

Preference-wise, I dont like it, to be honest with you," Garnett said in March. "Im a 4. I dont like, you knowit's what it is. Ill be whatever this team needs me to be. Other than a cheerleader with pom-poms and some short-shorts. Other than that, whatever this team needs me to be, man, Ill be it."

At the same time, you know that the Celtics want him back as a center. You get the sense that Doc Rivers thinks that's the only way that KG can be as effective as they need him to be.

Finding a middle ground for instance, signing Omar Asik to lighten the load at center? might make the difference in KG lacing up those Anta's for one more year.

And if he does, let's hope there's a healthy Avery Bradley and Jeff Green out there along side him.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.

He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.

In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.

But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.

“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.

“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”

Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.

“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”

The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.

So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.

“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”

Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. 

After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.

This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.

That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.

But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.

“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”

That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.

“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”

And we get that message, loud and clear!

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”