Eric Spoelstra didn't do that many things right last night, but one thing he was on top of was describing the play of Kevin Garnett.
"Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That's what it reminds me of. He's too proud of a player, talk about an MVP, one of the best players in this league, as soon as he stepped on the court as a rookie fourteen years ago. For the revisionist out there, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when everyone threw dirt on him in the Final against Boston, he came out the next night and had 37 and 15. And while all this fuel was going on the last three days, I was cringing because you know this is a proud group..."
Last night's Garnett was the one Celtics fans have been yearning for since the series began. With Dwyane Wade and LeBron James being so lethal, one of the matchups the Celtics need to win is the PF one between Garnett and Chris Bosh.
Through Games 1 and 2, it was sadly a wash. Garnett had not been playing up to standards, and Bosh, well, was. But simply a wash would not be good enough, as we all saw.
Well there was no wash last night, except maybe Garnett washing the floor with Bosh's face. KG went off for 28 points and 18 rebounds, compared to Bosh's six points and five rebounds.
"It was terrific," Rivers said of Garnett's play. "Like I said before the game, he had 20 shots in Game 2, but it wasn't the 20 shots that we wanted. Tonight he got the 20 shots that we wanted, minus the three at the end of the game. So he had 19 shots that we wanted. Even his jump shots were on the elbows; it wasn't further out. His shots from the corner were in the right spots. And he got into the middle of the paint instead of turning away. That was nice to see."
"I thought tonight I was just a lot more poised," Garnett said. "Just as a unit, as a team we had a lot more energy. I felt like I've been nonexistent pretty much offensively in this series. Tonight was a little more focused on offense versus defense. I thought I did a good job of balancing out to be honest. I looked for my shot to be honest. They weren't bringing a double team so I just took my opportunities and I was aggressive. That's what I've got to be like for the rest of these series if not the whole playoffs."
Garnett did a ton of his damage in the third quarter, not coincidently the Celtics best quarter of the night and perhaps the most important one, especially without Rondo in the game.
Garnett dropped 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting to go with five boards and the Celtics outscored the Heat 28-15 in the quarter. We haven't seen it often in this series, but the Celtics were finally looking to go at Garnett as the first option. It paid off, and should be something we see again down the road.
"Like I said, I was aggressive," Garnett said. "I won't call it a zone. "I've been in a zone and that wasn't it. Man, I've been in a zone and that wasn't it. I had a nice rhythm going. Guys looked for me. Like I said, I've got to continue to be aggressive. It gives us a force and another source of scoring."
Garnett played all 12 minutes of that quarter, which is unusual. But at the time, there really wasn't another option. He was needed to do all that he did - and he did it - even if he was really winded towards the end.
"It was funny, you could tell he needed the break with the two minutes left," Rivers said. "About two minutes left in the quarter and I know his run. His head's bobbing; you could just see it. And I called a punch, a post play for him and he called it off and tried to call a movement play and I called it back. And I went right back and said, ‘No, we're going to the post. To you.' And Kevin's nuts because when he scored, he's running down the court, ‘Get the ball to me!' And I'm laughing, I said, ‘Yeah, that's what we're trying to do.' So it's something I don't like doing, honestly."
Perhaps Delonte West said it best after the game.
"That's what we've been waiting for him (Garnett) to do. All credit to Miami's defense, but we know and I think he knows, that he can be dominant in this series."