Tag:Kevin Garnett
Posted on: April 16, 2009 10:41 am
 

No KG, no Banner 18

You can feel the misery wafting down the I-95 corridor from Boston as we speak. If it's true that Kevin Garnett is out for the entire postseason, then the entire postseason is going to be decidedly shorter than anticipated for the Celtics.

Sure, they can beat the Bulls without Garnett. But then what? The defending champs will be a very vulnerable team heading into the Orlando series, that's what.

I expect the Celtics to rally around the rest of their core, which is still as good as anyone else in the East other than Orlando and Cleveland. I'd expect Paul Pierce to continue in the role of emotional leader and crunch-time assassin. I'd expect Ray Allen to raise his game and shoot the ball even better. I'd expect the role players -- Eddie House, Leon Powe, Big Baby Davis, etc. -- to respond to the challenge. This is a proud group that will fight as long and as hard as possible to extend the Celtics' playoff life in the hopes that KG can make it back.

But Doc Rivers' comments on WEEI in Boston Thursday were decidedly grim.

"We're going to have to move on without him," Rivers said after watching Garnett try and fail to complete a 20-minute team run.

The Celtics aren't commenting on Rivers' interview with the radio station, whose website, WEEI.com, is oddly offline at the moment. Maybe from all the suicidal Celtics fans trying to find Rivers' audio clip.

 

 

Posted on: March 31, 2009 6:08 pm
 

Tough luck for the Celts

I'm not the least bit surprised that Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced Tuesday that he'll probably shut down Kevin Garnett until the last two or three games of the regular season to give his ailing right knee a chance to heal.

It sure sounded like Rivers was leaning that way Friday night in Atlanta, when he wouldn't rule out another lengthy absence to get KG ready for the playoffs.

Surprised is one thing. Concerned is another. I don't know how the Celtics couldn't be gravely worried about their chances of a repeat with Garnett so slow to return.

It's not as though Rivers brought Garnett back after nearly a month and rode him like Secretariat. KG didn't log more than 18 minutes in any of the four games he played before Rivers sat him as a precuation Friday night against the Hawks. When last I saw Rivers, outside the visiting locker room at Philips Arena, he professed no concern about KG's aborted comeback.

"I'm just going to make sure I don't have concern by doing it this way," Rivers said.

Hey, Doc: I think the time to be concerned has come. The champs are officially in trouble.

 

Posted on: March 27, 2009 11:08 pm
 

Have the Celtics weathered the storm?

ATLANTA -- After a brutal stretch of eight games in 13 days -- six of them on the road -- have the Celtics survived the brunt of their injury woes? Or is it just getting started again?

The Celtics' nightmare stretch -- they were 5-3, including Friday night's 99-93 victory over the Hawks -- ended on the same night Kevin Garnett's comeback from a sprained right knee was aborted. Doc Rivers said before the game Garnett's absence could be extensive, and nobody seems to be able to say where the tipping point is between getting healthy for the playoffs and not having enough time to get ready for them.

"I don't know what point that is," Rivers said. "It's just uncharted waters. We just don't know the right answer there. The great news for us is that we have a ton of practice days. And even if we make the decision to rest him longer, we can still use him in some of our skeleton offense and defensive stuff in practice to get him time, where before he couldn't even be on the floor. Coming back this time, he had no practice time, nothing. Coming back this way, if we did do that, at least he could come back with practice under his belt and timing under his belt."

With Rajon Rondo still limping with an ankle injury, Garnett out of the lineup again after a four-game cameo, and Leon Powe on the shelf with a sprained right knee, the only signs of optimism come from the schedule. The Celtics are straring at five straight home games and only two more road games -- and none until April 12.

"Hopefully, he can just be healthy for the playoffs," Paul Pierce said. "That's the main concern."

That's been easy to say for a while now, because the playoffs are far enough way. As they get closer, the concern heightens. If the champs are going to defend their title, they need to be whole.

"Honestly, I don't think that way," Ray Allen said. "Whoever lines up on the floor, that's who we have. ... I just want him to get healthy. When Kev gets back, that's when we'll focus on having him out there. But right now, we don't have him."

 

 

 

 

Posted on: March 27, 2009 7:10 pm
 

Comeback curtailed: Garnett out against Hawks

ATLANTA -- Though he didn't crack the 20-minute mark in any of his four games back from a right knee injury, Kevin Garnett still isn't right. So Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled the plug on KG's comeback Friday night and didn't rule out shutting Garnett down until the final two or three games of the regular season.

"We think about all that, yeah, for all of them," Rivers said before the Celtics played the Hawks, who pushed the defending champs to seven games in their first-round playoff series last year. "We're going to make that evaluation and determination at some point soon, but we don't know yet."

Rivers said Garnett is experiencing soreness but nothing structural in the knee, and that he doesn't have anything scheduled with team doctors. But Rivers had no answers for why Garnett's knee hasn't responded to limited minutes during his four-game aborted comeback. 

"It's uncharted waters," Rivers said. "We don't know where we're going with this right now. What we do know is that whatever it takes to get him to be 100 percent when the playoffs start, that's what we're going to do."

The Celtics carried an 11 1-2 game lead over Atlanta for the third playoff spot, so there's no reason to take any chances with Garnett or Rajon Rondo (ankle), who will play Friday night but will be watched closely.

"I would probably say if we're going to (rest Garnett), we're going to do it more than one day, but I'm not sure yet," Rivers said. "If he feels great (Saturday) then Sunday comes back into play, but I don't know. There's no reason to take a chance."

After the Atlanta game, the Celtics have eight remaining. If Rivers wants to shut Garnett down until the final two or three games, that plan would be complicated by the fact that Boston finishes the regular season with a back-to-back set at Philadelphia and home against Washington.

"I'm not concerned in the big picture," Rivers said. "I'm just going to make sure I don't have concern by doing it this way."

 

 

Posted on: March 24, 2009 8:49 pm
 

Celts-Magic IV

All I can guarantee about Celtics-Magic IV Wednesday night is that there will be a lot of complaining.

Before. During. After. Would you like some whine with that second seed?

Nobody whines for respect from the officials like the Celtics and Magic. OK, and the Cavs. OK, and the Lakers. Anyway, nobody in the playoff picture in either conference has a bigger inferiority complex than Orlando. Last we saw these teams together, the Magic nearly blew a 22-point third-quarter lead with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo wearing suits. (Nice ones, but suits.) Afterward, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy -- admit it, you can't get enough of him, can you? -- proceeded to complain about how the Magic are regarded nationally as an also-ran .500 team. Gee, after that performance, I wonder why?

Not satisfied with taking out one Eastern hub of the Revolutionary War this month, Van Gundy took aim at New York Monday night. The Knicks planned this nice, respectable little shin-dig for their legends, and Van Gundy used the opportunity to complain about how the Knicks never made any effort to hire Patrick Ewing. I'm sure Van Gundy's motivations are pure (wink-wink), but maybe it's something as simple as this: He's tired of his 7-foot freak of nature, Dwight Howard, who is coached by Ewing, getting pushed around by the likes of Leon Powe.

Anyway, Boston and Orlando in the middle of the NCAA's Sweet 16 is about as good as it gets in late March in the NBA. The Celtics finally are at almost-full strength. (Tune in to the pregame interviews, and Doc Rivers will fill you in on all the physical misfortune the poor Celtics have endured. By the time tipoff arrives, you'll be stuffing money in an envelope and sending it to the big bank building/Garden on Causeway Street. Just a dollar a day can keep the starting five in the whirlpool through the conference semifinals.)

The Magic are beginning what will be a fascinating mission to clear hurdles that sent them home prematurely the past two years. They're too soft. All they do is shoot threes. No killer instinct. You know the drill.

They're catching the Celtics at a time when Boston has taken more lumps than it's used to lately. Now the defending champs are looking to inflict some. The Magic, to their credit, are actually stating their preference for a first-round opponent: Their nemesis, the Pistons, who have swept them and cut them down 4-1 in the past two postseasons. This is one thing I greatly admire about Orlando. They recognize the natural progression that great teams before them have followed. You have to beat the team that's knocked you out before.

"Hopefully we play Detroit again," Howard said Monday night after Orlando beat the Knicks. "That'd be good for us because I think we have to get over that hump. Those guys have beaten us two years in a row and they left a bad taste in our mouth. Hopefully, this year it’ll be different Every year, I don’t know what it is about the Pistons, but they seem to have our number and we need to get over that hump mentally. There’s teams around the league that give us problems, and they’re one of those teams. In order to grow out of it, we have to mentally step up to the challenge and beat those guys."

Well, as things stand now, if Orlando can pass the Celtics for the second seed, they'd get their wish and face the Pistons in the first round. But there's a lot more at stake than that. Not the least of which is to see which team does more complaining, lobbying, and whining. I'm picking the Magic in that department, but don't count out the champs.

 

 

 

Posted on: March 18, 2009 6:39 pm
 

Quick, call an ambulance for the Celtics

BOSTON -- I'm here in Beantown to witness the systematic destruction of the defending NBA champions.

First, the injury news: Leon Powe, Boston's best interior player in Kevin Garnett's absence, could miss "a couple of weeks" with a sprained right knee, coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday night before the Celtics' game against the Miami Heat. Ray Allen also is out with a hyperextended elbow. Glen "Big Baby" Davis returns to the starting lineup after missing the past three games with a sprained ankle. Rajon Rondo also is struggling with a sprained ankle, and will be doing so for the rest of the season.

And those weren't even the news flashes. Rivers seemed decidedly less optimistic that Garnett would return Friday at San Antonio or Saturday at Memphis. And he conceded the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to Cleveland before the game, saying, "We're not gonna catch Cleveland."

Now the Celts have to put themselves back together in time to hold off Orlando for the second seed.  

Oh, by the way: Dwyane Wade is out Wednesday night with a strained right hip flexor. This was the only piece of news that made Rivers smile.

"He should never play, ever again, against us," Rivers said. "It's a Marquette thing."

Shoot, at this point, Marquette could beat both the Celtics and the Heat.

I'm kidding, of course, but the race for the top three seeds in the East has turned into a contest to see which team can dress eight healthy players. Cleveland absorbed a blow, too, on Wednesday with news that Wally Szczerbiak will miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained left knee.

Anyone in favor of a shortened regular season?

 

 

 

 

Posted on: February 20, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2009 12:46 pm
 

Bad break for Suns, Celts (UPDATE)

It was all wrapped up in such a tidy little gift box for the Suns. After the embarrassing mismanagement of coach Terry Porter's firing during All-Star weekend in Phoenix, coupled with efforts to trade both Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal, the Suns embarked on the Alvin Gentry era with a 282-point explosion in back-to-back victories of the Clippers. After the trade deadline passed Thursday, the Suns apparently were ready to leave the shameful soap opera behind and step into a sorely needed cocoon of normalcy.

They kept Amare and Shaq and at least would be able to evaluate the product on the court without the distraction of financially motivated decisions coming from their fickle owner, Robert Sarver.

Then came the news Friday that Stoudemire underwent surgery to repair a partially detached retina in his right eye, a procedure that likely will cost him the rest of the 2008-09 season. Along with it will come the conspiracy theories and second-guessing. Just what this struggling franchise needed.

Stoudemire was injured in the midst of his 42-point, 11-rebound outburst Wednesday night against the Clippers. It is the same eye that was accidentally poked by then-teammate Boris Diaw in training camp, resulting in a Kareem-like fashion statement but no major damage. Goggles wouldn't do the trick for Stoudemire this time, though. He needed a trip to the eye surgeon, Dr. Pravin Dugel, who informed the Suns that Stoudemire wouldn't be able to return to physical activity for about eight weeks. Given that the playoffs begin eight weeks from Saturday, and that the ninth-place Suns have no reason to expect they'll make it in without Stoudemire, Phoenix is back to focusing on the tough choices ahead this summer. The basketball court, alas, will not be their sanctuary.

Did the Suns know in the hours before Thursday's trade deadline that Stoudemire would be lost for the year, and does that explain why feverish trade talks surrounding the All-Star forward stopped on a dime like Steve Nash? A good theory, but largely irrelevant. Suns president Steve Kerr said at the news conference announcing Gentry's appointment to interim coach Monday that he wanted to keep the roster intact and evaluate the impact of the coaching change. The same day -- two days before Stoudemire's injury -- Nash informed reporters that he'd spoken with Kerr and asserted, "We think the team is going to stay the same."

It'll stay the same for the next 29 games, anyway. After that, Kerr, assistant GM David Griffin, and yes, Sarver, will try to figure out what to do with the $36.4 million owed to Stoudemire and Shaq next season -- nearly half the team's payroll for two guys they spent the past three weeks trying to trade.

At the same time the Suns were digesting the impact of the Stoudemire injury, Kevin Garnett was en route to Boston for an MRI on his right knee. He landed awkwardly on it Thursday night during the Celtics' 90-85 loss at Utah. Funny how karma operates sometimes; the Celtics arrived in the middle of the night -- where else? -- in Phoenix, where they're spending the next two days preparing to take on the Suns without Garnett Sunday. Garnett will be examined by team physician Dr. Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital Saturday. The Celtics are optimistic it's not a long-term injury, but they've already ruled Garnett out for the next three games -- Sunday at Phoenix, Monday at Denver, and Wednesday at the Clippers.

What does all of this mean? In the West, it means your playoff field is set, because Dallas and Utah no doubt will be able to hold off the Amare-less Suns, who enter the weekend one game out of the eighth spot. In the East, it means Orlando GM Otis Smith was either resourceful, clairvoyant, or both when he pulled the trigger on a three-team trade that brought Rafer Alston to O-Town as a very capable replacement for injured point guard Jameer Nelson. A week ago, it looked as though Nelson's injury would cause the Magic to bow out gracefully from their perch among the quartet of teams capable of winning the championship. Now, they're the only one of the four who did anything significant at the trade deadline to help themselves.

The Celtics will be examining a fairly deep list of big men, including Mikki Moore (released by the Kings) and Joe Smith (who could be bought out by the Thunder). They're also in the market for a defender with length who can shoot (hey, what happened to that James Posey guy?) with Tony Allen sidelined eight weeks following thumb surgery. They have some time to evaluate their options and add someone by the March 1 deadline for playoff eligibility. Assuming Garnett's knee checks out OK, KG will be back and the Celtics will try to avoid walking into the playoffs with a limp.

UPDATE: Indeed, the Celts got welcome news Saturday when McKeon diagnosed a strained muscle behind Garnett's knee. The MRI showed no structural damage, and KG will miss 2-3 weeks.

The Suns? Once again, they're a mess. Will Amare stay or go? Does anyone want a Hall of Famer on his last legs drawing a $20 million salary? Will Nash get a chance to chase down a championship while surrounded by capable teammates? Or is he destined to play out his days as the lone box office draw on a rebuilding team?

All good questions. Let me see if I can find a pair of goggles through which I can see the future, and I'll let you know how it turns out.

 

Posted on: January 5, 2009 12:02 pm
 

So much for a Marbury-free New Year

In the time-tested tradition of breaking New Year's resolutions before all the garbage is cleaned up in Times Square, I have already fallen off the wagon. Loyal BergerSphere reader D. Miz of Breakin Down the Game has dutifully pointed out that  my promise of a Marbury-free New Year went by the boards with my very first post of 2009.

Then, while I was flying to Utah to convene with GMs and scouts at the NBA's midseason scouting combine -- the D-League Showcase -- Marbury managed to step back into the news again Sunday night. The Knicks beat the slumping Celtics 100-88 at Madison Square Garden while I was crammed into a seat built for my 4-year-old on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City. But that wasn't the story. The story was Kevin Garnett, Marbury's former teammate in Minnesota, saying publicly for the first time that he wouldn't stand in the way if the Celtics wanted to sign Marbury to bolster their underperforming, inexperienced bench.

"I'm not opposed to Steph joining the team," Garnett said after the game to a throng of reporters who waited an hour to tap into his opinions on Marbury. "I feel like Steph has a lot of basketball in him. I know his IQ is very, very high. He is one of the best point guards I ever played with. I wouldn't be opposed to that."

KG stopped short of endorsing a Marbury signing, emphasizing that he wasn't suggesting it -- just saying he wouldn't be opposed. It was still news, even though it fell under the category of a non-recommend recommend from Larry David. (Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, I know you're with me.)

Knowing Donnie Walsh for the shrewd executive that he is, I wouldn't bet on a swift resolution to the Marbury matter. He can't sign with another team until Walsh lets him out of his contract, and the longer this drags on, the more leverage Walsh has. With teams looking at declining revenue during the recession, there will be a mad dash to dump salary as we approach the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Walsh knows that he holds a potentially valuable chip in Marbury's $20.8 million expiring contract. If Marbury isn't dealt by the deadline, the leverage will have swung about 80-20 in Walsh's favor. Marbury would have to clear waivers by March 1 to be playoff-eligible for a new team.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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