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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Cavs

WATCH: Celtics vs. Cavs

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Celtics-Cavs preview: Something to prove against the best in East

Celtics-Cavs preview: Something to prove against the best in East

BOSTON – Brad Stevens has said on more than one occasion that the Boston Celtics’ record (38-22) is a bit better than their actual play.

While it may come across as exaggerated humility on Stevens’ part, the coach makes a very good point.

Despite Boston having the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, they have struggled mightily this season against the top-four teams in the East outside of themselves.

Boston will have a chance to rewrite at least one chapter in that narrative tonight when they host the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Against the top-four teams in the East (Cleveland, Washington, Toronto and Atlanta), the Celtics are just 3-8 which falls short of how those teams have fared against one another this season.

The Cavs are 7-1 against the East’s top-4 clubs with the lone loss at Atlanta in November. Toronto (5-5) and Atlanta (4-4) have a .500 records against the top-4 while Washington (4-5) is just a game below-.500.

That’s why tonight’s game against Cleveland is so important to Boston.

It’s not just about beating the best team in the East.

For them, it’s about beating a good team, the kind of team that they have to get past in the postseason if they are to make the kind of deep playoff run that so many of the players have their sights set on.

Coming off of a 114-98 home loss to Atlanta, the Celtics know they have to play better – a lot better – to avoid losing a second game in a row, and four of their last five.

“They’re a good team,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “If we’re not locked in, they’ll beat us worse than the Hawks. So we have to come out, execute, play harder, feed off the crowd and do our job. We should be victorious.”

That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re talking about a Cleveland team that’s truly built for the postseason.

That said, the Cavs are about as vulnerable to defeat now as they will be anytime this season.

All-Star forward Kevin Love is out until late March following “minor” surgery on his left knee.

“There’s definitely enough time to where I can get into a good rhythm,” Love told reporters earlier this week.

In addition to Love, the Cavs are also without J.R. Smith who underwent right thumb surgery in December that’s expected to keep him out until at least the middle of March.

Said Love, “I imagine between J.R. and myself, we’ll get out there and get our wind and be ready to go for (the playoffs) in April.”

Even without Love and Smith, Cleveland has plenty of firepower to remain the team to beat in the East.

It all starts with LeBron James who is averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a career-high 8.9 assists per game while shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

And then there’s Kyrie Irving who continues to play at a level which puts him among the best guards in the NBA. He’s averaging a career-high 24.6 points while dishing out 6.0 assists to go with 3.3 rebounds.

Tristan Thompson. Iman Shumpert. New guys Derrick Williams and Deron Williams.

Go down the line and it’s clear that the Cavs have elite talent and depth to which beating them, regardless of who may be missing in action, will not be easy.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have to simply do what they do best … only better.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We’ve got to make shots.”