ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kevin Garnett probably would've run out at Brian Cook a time or two during his game-changing three-minute, third-quarter 3-point barrage that helped Orlando push out to a 16-point lead.
|Doc Rivers misses his coach-on-the-floor in K.G. (AP)|
If Garnett plays, Leon Powe doesn't get a season-high 26 minutes, doing a nice job holding his own against Magic monster Dwight Howard. Still, the Celtics aren't used to having their big men hold their own against anyone.
Opponents hold their own against them.
That advantage was unavailable because Garnett was sidelined for the first time in his Celtics tenure with an abdominal strain aggravated on Friday night, the first game where he looked around at Minnesota uniforms and wasn't wearing one.
Still, one wonders whether things would've been different had Garnett been out there on the bench and in team huddles, supplying the hands-on leadership that has become his staple since coming East. There's no legitimate reason why we should be wondering that, especially considering that he was still in the arena.
The word from the Celtics was that he didn't want to be a distraction. Realistically, how would that be possible?
Last we saw Garnett, he was coming back from the ab strain to finish off the Timberwolves, stealing the ball from Sebastian Telfair on the final possession, popping his new team's jersey in celebration of another victory. Pain had to take a number.
Saturday morning, it's time came. Sunday, it was still present, but there was a revenge game to play.
The last time Boston came into Orlando's Amway Arena, it did so undefeated. Garnett hadn't tasted defeat in his new surroundings until Nov. 18, another Sunday, one he replayed in his mind over and over because it brought back an old stranger he no longer wanted hanging around. Losing is no longer accepted and the Magic brought the feeling back.
"Kevin goes with his emotion as far as 'I can play.' He was not moving great, but he 'can play', so it did take a lot to sit him. He was upset by it, which was good," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Getting on the bus, he said 'hey, I'm feeling great, so when I go out and shoot, if I feel great, that means I can play, right?' So, even though I told him he wasn't, he still hasn't heard that yet, in his own mind, which is good. "Who would you rather have, a guy you have to talk out of it or a guy you have to talk into playing. I'll take that all day."
Garnett has gone full throttle through the season's first half while veterans who have put in the time in the league that he has normally find a spot or two to coast through. That's why the Celtics are always hyped to play, home or away, soaking in pre-game introductions the way rookies starting their first games would. It's his influence. That's why he's been the MVP to this point in the season.
That's also why he should've been out there on the team bench rooting them on.