- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Celtics center Kevin Garnett has cranked up his offense the past couple of games.BOSTON -- If this keeps up, the rest of the NBA is going to sign Kevin Garnett up for a book club. Or maybe send him to a cooking class (he does love those baking analogies, you know). Either way, Garnett is dominating the playoffs thus far and he credits his lack of anything else to do.
“I have no life at this point," said Garnett. "I go home, get treatment, come back in here, study tape, film -- no life at all. This is what it is.”
Fresh off a 28-point, 14-rebound, 5-block effort in dispatching the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of a first-round series Thursday night in Boston, Garnett bounced back to put up 29 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 92-91 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday at TD Garden.
Poor 76ers, their owners didn't even do anything to get soon-to-be 36-year-old Garnett riled up (his birthday is the day after Game 4 in Philadelphia, and clearly he could use some new music or maybe a puppy to distract him from this hoops grind).
Don't feel bad for Garnett. As he noted Saturday, "When we win, I’m having a lot of fun." Yep, he might have no life, but these games have been a (don't tell him we said this, turn-back-the-clock) party for him.
Garnett connected on 12 of 20 shots in Game 1 and was the only Celtics player in attendance for much of the first half. He made 6 of 9 shots before the intermission, helping Boston stick within five at the break (47-42). He pleaded ignorance to the halftime deficit, then went out and played all but 3:40 in the second half, scoring 15 points after the break, including nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter.
"No disrespect for the game or anything like that, I go off the crowd, I go off the adrenaline, the emotion," said Garnett. "For the most part I liked the feel of the game, [but] I really feel like we have better basketball in us. I’m sure as the series goes on we will have no other choice but to get better. Whatever is asked of me is what I am going to do. I don’t really pay attention to the minutes."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers sure does.
"Once we got down, I told him, I said, 'We’re going to need him the whole fourth,'" admitted Rivers. "I said, ‘I don’t care how far we get down ... but we’re saving minutes [for the fourth quarter].’ And so Kevin was so excited when he ran over to me and said he can play the rest of the game now. It’s still tough, though, honestly, because it’s the minutes in the row that I manage more than the cumulative minutes for him. And that was the risk, but he handled it pretty well.”
Added Rivers: "He’s great. He really is. He’s making it so hard when he’s off the floor for those 12 minutes or 10 minutes, I mean you’re in a panic right now. And that’s an area we’re going to have to improve; he’s going to sit for 10 or 12 minutes a game. And we have to -- our plus/minus with him off the floor right now is horrendous -- so that’s an area we have to improve on. But when he’s on the floor, he’s doing everything for us. He had a great block late in the game, he’s making big shots, he’s posting, he’s getting to the foul line, he’s just playing fantastic.”
Probably too fantastic for the 76ers' (and the Hawks') liking.
"Kevin is playing great," said Philadelphia coach Doug Collins. "I mean, he is playing great. He’s hitting all these shots. He’s fading shots off the glass. I mean, he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play. My hat’s off to him. But I don’t think there was anything we did poorly with him. I just think that sometimes you get trumped."
How well is Garnett playing? Let Paul Pierce explain.
"We feel like that’s our advantage, we feel like that’s our advantage every night, you know, when you look at the Eastern Conference, the teams that we've got to match up with [Garnett]," said Pierce. "We are gonna ride Kevin all the way until his wheels fall off, and he’s bringing it every night. He understands the sense of urgency with this ball club and he’s giving it everything he's got out there for us, and he’s looking like [the 2004] MVP, definitely.”