Garnett: 'The tech shook up the dog house'

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Garnett: 'The tech shook up the dog house'

BOSTON It doesn't take a lot to get Kevin Garnett any more motivated than he already is on game nights.

Hit him with a technical?

Yup. That'll do it.

Garnett has been surprisingly cool, calm and collected all season -- at least by KG standards, anyway.

But in Wednesday night's 102-96 win over Milwaukee, we saw a glimmer of the old fire-breathing Garnett when he and second-year big man Larry Sanders had a few uh, words for one another that resulted in both being whistled for a technical foul with 6:23 to play in the second quarter.

"Sometimes you need a little swift kick in the (expletive) I thought the little tech, it shook up the dog house, as we say," Garnett said.

Garnett was scoreless at that point in the second quarter.

But after the tech, Garnett had four points and an assist in the quarter.

"It gave me a little energy," said Garnett, who finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds for his team-leading ninth double-double this season. "Don't take much."

Garnett's focus remains no different now than it has been since he became a Celtic in 2007 -- find a way to win.

And he's doing so with a solid season that's getting very little attention or fanfare.

"As far as the year, I'm just trying to give my team an edge," Garnett said. "I've been going through some personal problems of late, but I'm good and I'm back; looking at life a little different, beat up and all that, just giving all I have. I'm nothing more, nothing less than that."

The "personal problems" Garnett mentioned led to him missing two road games (at Detroit and Dallas) earlier this season, both of which the Celtics lost.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers recognizes that much of Garnett's solid play this year has indeed gone unnoticed, while the talk of him being past his prime persists.

"It's amazing, 'Kevin's old, Kevin's this' it's all you hear," Rivers said. "And no one looks at his numbers."

This season, Garnett is averaging 14.9 points and eight rebounds which are almost identical to the numbers he posted last season.

And while those numbers are below his career averages, often forgotten about is that Garnett's playing time has been significantly reduced.

The 35-year-old veteran is averaging 30.8 minutes played which is about six minutes below his career average.

"It's not like Kevin is playing a ton of minutes," Rivers said. "He's still putting up numbers."

Making his play even more surprising has been it has come with the veteran being relatively injury-free other than the usual bumps and bruises that come with a long -- and this year, contracted -- NBA season.

When asked about Garnett's durability, Rivers quickly responded, "I'm not talking about that; stay away from that subject."

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass-rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.