A lot of things went poorly last night and you can't point the finger at any one player and blame the loss on them. With that said, for this team to win, we're going to need a lot more out of Kevin Garnett.
We've heard all along (accurately) that missing him last year was the key to us missing out on a return trip to the Finals. Now we're here again and we need him to be at least 90% of the KG we know and love.
So the question on everyone's mind is "what happened?" Is Garnett hurt more than he's letting on? He didn't play well towards the end of the Magic series either. I find it hard to believe that he's just out of gas because he had a fantastic series against Cleveland just a few weeks ago. Nobody, ever, is going to accuse him of being lackadaisical or playing with not enough intensity. But he was thoroughly dominated by Pau Gasol on both ends of the court.
So wha'happen??? And more importantly, can he do anything about it to make it better?
Here's a theory, and you can discredit it if you like. As much as I love having him on my team, Garnett is a bit of a bully. Sure, he's got tremendous skill and he outworks most players in the league, but when push comes to shove, he's usually the one shoving and yapping. It drives him and intimidates opponents. See Gasol in 2008.
Now, what happens when you punch a bully in the mouth? If after-school specials and Disney movies have taught us anything, it is that bullies tend to recoil and stand there in a daze, unable to believe what just happened. Well, Gasol threw the first punch last night. He took the ball to the hoop and when it didn't go in the first time he didn't give up on the play the way a Dwight Howard or Antawn Jamison might have in the previous couple rounds. He kept right after the ball and put it back in on the second effort. As painful as it is to say, the effort was McHale-like in quality.
So I guess my theory is that Garnett was just a little dazed and confused to see "Soft" Gasol beating him to the loose balls and out-working him on the boards. Of course that doesn't explain the lack of lift and inability to hit point blank bunny baskets, but I'm much less concerned about Garnett's offense than I am about his defense and rebounding.
So hopefully this loss angers Garnett in a good way. I want him fired up for the next game (but not so much that he does something stupid). I want him hyper-focused on stopping Gasol and making the right defensive rotations. I want him boxing out when the ball goes up. I want the Garnett that makes opponents look bad because they can't get anything going offensively. in short, I want the bully back.