And that, in a nutshell, is the story behind the 2011-12 Celtics. Garnett, the linchpin of one of the best defensive teams in NBA history over the past four seasons, can't get off the ground, and it's affecting his game at every level. Monday night he used 25 possessions to produce 12 points, with several close-in shots providing particularly poignant reminders. One close-in flip that would have been a dunk two years ago went in, but another was instead rejected by Serge Ibaka.
[…] Nowhere is this more evident than on the boards, where the Celtics are getting pounded on a nightly basis. Ironically, Monday night was one game in which the opposite was the case — the Thunder have struggled to rebound almost as much as Boston has.
Nonetheless, the dropoff in Garnett's rebounding numbers is telling. Garnett rebounded 17.5 percent of missed shots when he was on the floor last season; entering this game, he was at just 13.5 percent. On the defensive glass, he's down from 28.7 percent to 22.2 percent — a big factor in Boston's 25th-place standing in defensive rebound rate as a team entering Monday's game.
I've been harping on the KG thing for a while now, and the rest of the basketball writers, as they cover these big games, are catching on. KG has no lift anymore.
It's forcing him to pass out of shooting situations, even shooting situations that used to end in dunks. He can't just quick-jump and dunk on a catch or rebound underneath.
You want problems with our offense? That's a huge place to start. And, like that quote says, it's having an effect on our defense and rebounding.
I haven't seen KG look like this since his injury. I don't know if that's the case again, or if he's just nowhere near in the shape he's supposed to be. I'm hoping it's the latter… but it might be too late to get him where he needs to be.
Of all the things with this team, that's the one thing that scares me more than any other.
On Page 2: Progress is about all we can hang our hats on right now
Short of wins – they still have just four (with eight losses) following Monday night's 97-88 defeat by Oklahoma City – the one thing the Celtics have going for them is hope; hope that the struggles of today will in some way pay dividends in the future.
"For us, we believe that we're not that far away," said Jermaine O'Neal, who had a season-high 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Thunder.
Added Boston's Mickael Pietrus: "All we need right now is just one win. It can be against anybody, we just need that one win to get everybody regrouped and feel better."
I can't say I'm particularly proud of this moment. Ever since KG came around, we've been able to be big, brash and, well, kind of dickish.
And I know some smaller market folks will stumble upon this and point and laugh. And to them I say… just wait. You'll end up the same way if your team wins a title and becomes a perennial contender. Just you wait.
In the mean time, I'll take last night's progress as a silver lining. It's all I can really do right now.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Perk appreciates support in return | ESPN Boston: Perk's bond with Boston | Perk laments KG's first career charge | Jermaine O'Neal gets defensive | WEEI: Doc sees Garnett in the "half" Perkins | Perk: I'm just really glad its over | Celtics problems are not about Perk | O'Neal: Judge me on defense, not offense | Herald: C's put themselves down | Celtics lit up in 4th | Perkins' Boston bond still deep | O'Neal on defensive | Globe: Skid hits 5 games