What is going on with Kevin Garnett? He is shooting lights out from the perimeter, rebounding like a Rodman and squawking like Sidney Dean on the Venice Beach courts. This is 35-year-old Kevin Garnett we are talking about. He is supposed to be washed up and ready to have his number retired. But somehow he appears to be rejuvinated and is in total beast mode.
Garnett scored 27 points against Philadelphia in Game 3, making 12 of his 17 field goal attempts and dominating his center matchup with Spencer Hawes. KG also grabbed 13 rebounds in 30 minutes of all-out fury, something we haven’t seen since his days as The Big Ticket for the Minnesota Timberwolves when he was an absolute double-double machine. In Game 1, he burned the Sixers with 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. In the series clincher against the Atlanta Hawks, KG pumped in 28 points on 10-of-19 from the field.
Has KG discovered some kind of Hot Tub Time Machine and flashed back to 2003? Did Hawks owner really ticked him off to the point where he’s taking it out on everyone else? Or did the move to center full-time enabled him to create more space for his patented face-up jumper because opposing big men are reluctant (or just too slow) to contest his shot? Whatever it may be — and the Hot Tub Time Machine is probably the best theory at this point — Garnett is playing out of his mind and the Boston Celtics are absolutely loving it.
“He’s rebounding, he’s defending, he’s talking. He was really upset after [Game 2] because he didn’t think we played the right way as a team. And if you know Kevin it’s all about doing things right for the team,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
“It’s really how he’s been relentless in the post.”
KG has been on a tear ever since Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. called the Celtics are “old” and Garnett “the dirtiest guy in the league” during the Celtics-Hawks series in the opening round. Garnett has had five 20-plus points in the 2012 playoffs, and his Game 3 performance in Philly was only the second time in his playoff career in which he had more than 25 points, over 70 percent shooting and more than 10 rebounds. The last time we saw these same numbers from KG was back in 2003 when he was running with Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell.
“I don’t want to come off kind of wrong, but I really go with my craft and I take it very seriously,” said Garnett, who turns 36 on May 19, at the end of the Hawks series. “I put a lot of work into my craft. I take it very seriously. I always have, since ’95, since I’ve been able to come into the league and it’s almost like you guys are shocked. Like this ain’t what I do every day, like this ain’t what I was made for. It does come off disrespectful at times. I put a lot of work and time into this, and there are certain levels I expect from myself.
“I take this very seriously, so you guys calling me old, that number defies. You have no idea what you are doing when you say those ‘old’ comments. I appreciate that. I don’t read your columns, but it gets back to me.”
What’s also fueling Garnett and the Celtics is the clear path to the NBA Finals has been paved. The Chicago Bulls are out and the Miami Heat are hurting without Chris Bosh. This could be the final year of Boston’s Big Three and Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and KG are playing like there is no tomorrow and are letting it all hang out for one last hurrah.