If Kevin Garnett wasn’t one of the older players in the league and played 40-45 minutes tonight, I have no doubt in my mind that this game would not have been close. All night long, Garnett was finding opportunities in the 15-20 foot range off of pick and rolls and screens of all sorts. More times than one would have liked, Hibbert and West were caught in the paint off of a high pick and roll which left a wide open Kevin Garnett, who ended up shooting 7-10. As a team, Boston shot 50% from the midrange/elbow area.
The biggest concern, to me, was how many times the Celtics were able to find success running that same little sequence. You can understand them being able to do it once or twice, then you’d be looking for Hibbert and West to make adjustments. When someone sets a screen on you while you’re defending Kevin Garnett, stay on him. Don’t relax back into the paint looking for him to drive to the hoop. Garnett scored off of that sequence four times in the first quarter, before he sat on the bench for the majority of the second quarter.
Let’s try a boxing analogy. The Celtics midrange game last night was equal to an effective jab. They kept snapping it off in the face of the Pacers, who didn’t seemed overly concerned with stopping it.
In the final round, the Celtics feigned the jab, Indiana overreacted and got caught with a left hook to the jaw.
The guys at Hoop Chalk took an in-depth look at the how the Celtics used the midrange jab to beat up Indy. It’s a good read.