It was great getting 26 points out of Jeff Green. It was nice to see Paul Pierce doing Truth things. But there was a missing element to Saturday's game that may have done the Celtics in. Not enough Kevin Garnett on offense.
He seemed alright on defense - as he usually is. It bears mentioning (once again) that he's incredibly important for the team's defense.
Even though he’s just a month shy of his 37th birthday, Garnett remains the key to the Celtics defense. Boston has allowed 96.2 points per 100 possessions with Garnett anchoring the back line this season, compared with 104.6 points-per-100 with him off the court. That’s like saying the Celtics are a bit better than the No. 1-ranked Indiana Pacers’ defense with KG, and only a tiny sliver better than the 22nd-ranked Toronto Raptors’ D without him.
The Knicks only scored 85 points. That's a good thing. Still, in 37 minutes on the court, Garnett was a -8 in plus/minus and scored just 8 points himself. He wasn't getting a lot of good looks and his shot wasn't falling as much as you'd want from one of your stars.
Part of it rests on Garnett, who not only appeared a bit rusty at times after missing 10 of Boston's final 13 regular season games, but suffered through some second-half foul trouble that limited Rivers' ability to utilize him for important stretches. But Rivers was quick to note how the team let Garnett down on offense on Saturday -- through forced entry passes, poor floor spacing, and an overall lack of ball movement -- and suffered accordingly.
"We were trying to get the ball to Kevin," Rivers said afterward. "I think we threw three passes from halfcourt to the post. I mean, you’re going to turn the ball over when that happens instead of just making the next pass, letting that guy make the pass when he’s in the passing area."
So I would think a main theme to the team's film sessions will be 'how to get the ball to KG without handing it to the other team.' As Doc would say, our margin of error is zero, so getting one of your stars to contribute has got to happen for this team to score enough points for the hard work they do on defense to matter.