Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Without him Friday, the Celtics pounded the Suns, 113-88, and Garnett said he joked to Rivers that if they were going to play like that, he’d sit out against Portland, too.
“I thought they played very free,” Garnett said of the team’s effort against the Suns. “I thought they played aggressively. If we can bottle that for when I am around or when I am playing, that would be great.”
Like Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and Rivers, Garnett has preached ball movement and defense more since Rajon Rondo went down, and he does feel a level of satisfaction in seeing his teammates do such things even when he isn’t out there.
“The things that we’re asking some of the young guys to do is a lot,” Garnett said.
“The major players who’ve been in the league know how to do it, certain things like that.
“One thing you can’t give is in-game experience. You can only get that from the games, but we have very smart players, we have a lot of potentially great players, players that are going to be something in our league some day, and it’s good to give them the opportunity.”
The NBA schedule is a fickle bitch. The Celtics played 3 games in 4 nights… had an All Star break… are finishing up a 5-game-in-7-night stretch tonight… and then they play once in then next six nights.
There won’t always be opportunities like this to give guys a day off and still get a couple of good practices in before facing an opponent. In fact, they follow that little mini vacation with a 3-game-in-4 night against a couple of playoff teams ahead of them in the standings.
So you can bet Kevin Garnett will start missing a few more games down the stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul Pierce takes a night off here and there too. And the nicely timed thing about the upcoming stretch of nights off is that the new guys in Terence Williams, Jordan Crawford, and DJ White (whose paperwork to clear him from China should come through soon) a chance to get some reps in and learn a few things about how things work around here.
A month or so ago, these guys would have been in here on 10-day contracts (and Crawford probably not at all had Barbosa been healthy) to fill out the end of the bench and provide insurance against foul trouble. But now these guys are getting key minutes in important games. With Doc balancing the need for rest with the need to win games, these guys are going to get opportunities to help this team win.
Against Phoenix, they made the most of those, providing the team with the type of play that made a few fans around Boston fantasize about long-term deals for them. Against Portland, they played well enough to have many of those same fans start Googling “Available NBA free agents.”
It’s not a shock (or at least it shouldn’t be). You have one guy who’s got a week to prove to the Celtics that he deserves another week to prove that he deserves to be here the rest of the year. And you’ve got another guy who’s trying to prove to his former team, and the NBA, that he’s not the
shitty-shooting gunner volume scorer that everyone made him out to be (I’m sure Jordan Crawford has a few less-than-flattering trade analysis pieces pinned up somewhere within his line of sight). You throw them onto a new team, with strong veteran voices and a strong coach and there’s bound to be some struggle.
Unfortunately for them, this isn’t December. It’s almost March. And the Celtics are as close to the 2nd seed Pacers as they are to the out-of-the-playoffs Raptors and Sixers (6 games). Depending on your perspective, they amazingly still have an opportunity to improve their playoff position greatly… or they expectedly teeter on the edge of missing the playoffs entirely. It hinges, in part, on the play two guys who started the season half a world away, and a guy who one of the worst teams in the NBA deemed expendable.
Doc’s got no choice but to rest Kevin Garnett, and maybe others as the schedule lurches towards its conclusion. These guys have no choice but to step up and help this team survive.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Doc’s take: A “my bad” game | WEEI: Celtics continue road sputter | Herald: Road test for finishing school | This western’s a flop | Failure to win small battles costs big time
Please join us for our annual Red’s Army party, which is also a celebration of Gang Green TV’s 200th show. It’s March 10th at “The Place” . We’re starting at noon, we’ve the C’s/Thunder at 1pm, free food, we’re raffling off 2 sets of Celtics tickets, and there’s a halftime Q&A with CSNNE’s Jessica Camerato.