After a couple of days of everyone, including us, talking about how bad the Celtics look when Kevin Garnett leaves the floor, Doc told his bench today that there’s no bailing them out with a change to KG’s minutes.
“No, no, I’m not going to let him do more. I’m going to play Kevin the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said. “With Paul, Rondo you can go anywhere but if we can’t win with him off the floor, we just won’t win. And I told our bench that. We’re going to play the minutes that I’m giving them. The bench will play the minutes they should get and if they’ve got to do something or we just won’t win. It’s that simple.”
I’m with ya, Doc. The absolute worst thing the Celtics can do at this point is increase KG’s minutes. Hell, I’m all for dropping them by a couple and letting these guys figure it out. Toss them into the deep end, and let them figure out how to swim.
Like I’ve said before, KG exists in a world where few others do… a world where the game moves at a slower speed, and they can pick things up well before the rest of us. But what that ends up really meaning for the rest of the team is they have to do fundamental things better to make up for it.
It’s really not that hard. Guys like KG and, on the offensive end especially, Rajon Rondo, can anticipate things because they’ve got that extra-sensory ability on the court. That gives them an extra half second jump on everyone. But doing things like closing out properly on 3’s, hedging and recovering properly on pick and rolls, and boxing out when the shot goes up can make up those half seconds you don’t have to anticipate.
So instead of being able to see a play ahead of time, reacting to it with properly executed fundamentals can work just as well. It’s harder work. It’s going to take a lot of communication between players. But defending well without KG on the floor is very possible.
These guys just have to do it. And they’re all pretty good NBA players, so there really is no excuse long-term for not doing it. In the short-term, we can excuse some of it away with a lack of repetition and familiarity with one another (a.k.a. “chemistry”). But if this is still going on a month from now, then there’s a problem.
I don’t want to go down that road right now. But Doc’s language and tone is getting a little stronger with these guys. He knows they have the ability to do it. But the only way they can do it is with effort, and expending that effort consistently in the upcoming practices and games.