Garnett out of place at center

The Sports Xchange
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One of the reasons the Celtics aren't as confident about their chances this season is that they have serious questions in the pivot.

Jermaine O'Neal was their starting center until he sustained yet another injury -- this one to his left wrist -- and now they're having to use Kevin Garnett at the position.

While Garnett can outrun most other centers, he doesn't love the inside banging. KG went as far as saying he'd prefer to play power forward, which is never a good sign.

"Preference-wise I don't like it," said Garnett, who had 10 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 104-86 home victory over Portland. "I'm a 4.

"But I like whatever this team needs me to be, other than a cheerleader with some pom-poms and some short-shorts.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself when it comes to playing basketball, and positions are just numbers for me. But when it comes to preference, I enjoy the 4. There's a lot more versatility in the 4. At the 5, you're stuck in mud or cement. There's not a lot of variation in the 5 position. But I'm enjoying it, and I'm adapting in whatever way I can to give my team an edge. It's all good with me."

Garnett will see more center as the Celtics head out on an eight-game road trip that begins Sunday afternoon in los Angeles against the Lakers. His former general manager and coach in Minnesota recognizes that KG doesn't like to mix it up under the basket, but he believes you still get what Garnett can be.

"People make a big deal out of positions," said Kevin McHale. "I don't think like Kevin turns into Bill Russell when he plays center or turns into Wilt.

"You're the same player just playing a different position. And out of necessity he's been playing center, but he doesn't play any differently than he did at power forward. He sets picks, he moves, they run offense through him out of the elbows, he makes that 17-, 18-foot jump shot. It's not like he plays center and all of a sudden changes his game. It's just out of necessity he's playing there.

"I will tell you that probably for him it's hard some nights to try to match up against some of the real big physical guys," said McHale, "but that's kind of what they need him to do right now."

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