Garnett fueled by failures

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Garnett fueled by failures

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - For all the good that Kevin Garnett has experienced in his career, he wants to remember the bad. The embarrassing blowouts, the one-point losses, they all serve a purpose in his never-ending pursuit of greatness.

On Friday, even after beating the Washington Wizards by 16 points, he was still thinking about Thursdays 97-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

You want to keep that fresh in your mind. Its motivating, he said. We played like trash; they played great. And you want that to motivate you. Now weve got a really good Heat team coming up on Sunday and well be tested again.

With three games left before the playoffs and the Celtics in a battle with the Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, Garnett has no room for excuses. He knows the level of basketball his team is capable of, and he wants the Celtics to play up to it.

I think were right there looking for that consistency, he said. And well see. If we decide as a team to commit to that, then thats what well be. If not, were going to have problems.

That means no excuses - no talk of injuries, gelling with new teammates, and especially not fatigue. The Celtics played back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday and will play another two in a row on Sunday and Monday. Thats a lot of basketball for a veteran team to play over a five-day span, and Garnett doesnt want to hear about it.

Fatigues not an option right now, he said. Its not an option. But we are trying to get better and were doing it with hard work and effort, as usual.

This is the point in the season where the Celtics cant rely on days off of extra rest. Instead they have to look to themselves, and feed off those around them.

The Jungle, thats when the fans come through, when you dig and see what you have in you. You dig really deep, Garnett said of playing in front of the home crowd. You dig really deep. But fatigue, a lot of it is mental. It is physical but a lot of it, mentally, you can get through it. If you can get through certain quarters and get rest here and there through some subs, then you can endure.

The Celtics will play two of their last three regular season games on the road. Garnett finds motivation in that, too. He knows the Cs have to make the best of the games they are given to play, and hell remember the burning losses as he fights toward his next win.

The boos are probably even more motivating than anything, he said. To be booed or to be hated or disliked - hates a very strong word - to be disliked, is motivating. You just cant use it as an excuse. Thats all. Other teams are tired, other teams are also going home, but this point in the season, its not an option.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”
 

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.