It was expected that Kevin Garnett would wear down as the compressed season moved along, but the 35-year-old is playing his best basketball of the season. Even after being moved to center -- a position he'd rather not play.
"I'm motivated. You know, I hear y'all calling me old," said Garnett, who was clearly up for his return to Minnesota, going for 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Celtics' 100-79 victory over the Timberwolves Friday. "I hear y'all calling me... older, weathered. I'm motivated. It (doesn't) take really much to motivate me, man. I'm older in basketball years, but in life I'm 30-something. I'm just motivated. I like to use that word.
"Playing against younger talent that's supposed to be prolific and supposed to be above average... but I'm old, though, you know? But, for the third time, it doesn't take much to motivate me. That's what it is. That's what you see."
What you see is what the Celtics want.
"It makes us smarter," said Doc Rivers of Garnett taking on a larger role on offense. "Kevin's been amazing. I was joking, but it's true. If you had an All-Star vote at the center spot in the league right now, he'd be right up there since the (All-Star) break."
The in-season improvement came after introspection.
"The first half of the season wasn't the most pleasurable for us," Garnett said. "I thought I could be better, and I've been working towards that. I've been giving myself a true analysis in the mirror. I've been looking at myself, telling myself, what can I do better? And I've been going towards that. I know there's some things I can get better at, and I've been trying to do that. It doesn't take much to motivate me, man.
"I can't ask a teammate to do something and look at himself if I'm not looking at myself. I'm every bit of the word of a true leader -- not by the words that come out of my mouth, but by example. That's just me, man. I've always been built like that. I've always tried to better myself, on and off the court."
Garnett and the Celtics will obviously need to be at their best when Miami visits Boston Sunday afternoon.
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