Celtics 'athletic' with Garnett at center


Celtics 'athletic' with Garnett at center

BOSTON Before the season began, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers talked about playing Kevin Garnett "some" at center this season.

But with Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out indefinitely, Garnett's minutes in the middle are more than either Rivers or Garnett expected.

And the Celtics are a better team for it.

As much as Garnett cringes at the idea of being a center after a Hall of Fame career at the 4-spot, he knows as well as anyone that the C's seem to play better when he's at center.

You can add Friday's 10794 win over New Jersey as yet another piece of mounting evidence to support that theory.

Garnett had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win, giving him his team-leading ninth double-double this season.

And he did most of his damage . . . as a center.

When it comes to playing center, it's like most topics with Garnett he doesn't mince his words.

"Preference-wise, I don't like it," he said. "I'm a 4 (power forward). I don't like you know, it is what it is. I'll do whatever this team needs me to be, other than a cheerleader with pom-pons and some short-shorts."

Although having Garnett play almost exclusively now at center is out of necessity, the benefits of him at center cannot be ignored.

"Garnett looked like he was 21 years old tonight," said Nets coach Avery Johnson.

Indeed, Garnett does appear to have a bit more spring in his step at the center position.

"Kevin at the five has been very good," Rivers said. "We're athletic all of a sudden. You put Kevin and Brandon (Bass) on the floor at the same time. With Rondo. All of a sudden we're flying down the floor and we're getting low posts, we're scoring."

Boston has been among the NBA's lowest scoring teams all season.

The C's are ranked 26th in the league in scoring, at 89.7 points per game.

During their current three-game winning streak, Boston's scoring is bumped up to 98.3 points per game.

And while there are a number of Celtics who have contributed to that recent surge offensively, Garnett's scoring around the basket has been a big part of the turn-around.

Whether he's a four or five-man, Garnett only cares about doing whatever he can to help the Celtics win games.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself when it comes to playing basketball, and positions is just numbers to me," Garnett said. "But, you know, if it comes to preference I enjoy the 4. There's a lot more versatility in the 4. You know, the 5 you're kind of stuck in the mud and cement and you know things are as written.

Garnett added, "but this is what it is and I'm enjoying it and I'm adapting and doing whatever I can to get my team ahead."

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