The Celtics stole Game 5 in Miami and will return to Beantown with a chance to close out the ECF on Thursday. Their anchor, on the floor and emotionally, has been the 17th-year ‘Big Ticket’ Kevin Garnett. Through a rough, up-and-down regular season and 18 postseason games thus far, future HOF’er Garnett has provided increased production on both ends of the court as well as the leadership that few in the NBA posses.
36-year-old KG is averaging 19.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 1.6 apg in 37.3 grueling minutes of competition each night. His intensity and consistency allow him to affect the game on almost every play. On Sunday in Boston, Garnett had 17 points, 14 boards, 5 blocks, 3 dimes and 2 steals in a game that the Celtics had to win in order to avoid going down 3-1 before heading to Miami for Game 5. After helping his teammates tie the series, Garnett followed up with a 26-point performance and 11 rebounds in Tuesday’s thrilling 94–90 coup on the Heat’s home turf, giving the Celts a 3-2 lead.
Garnett has surpassed his regular season high of 25 points four times in he playoffs, and he only failed to score in double digits once. In addition, his rebounding, shot-blocking and steals have all increased in the postseason, and Garnett is shooting 80% from the line and 50% from the field. While playing out of position at the 5, KG has yet to foul out in the playoffs. This is especially impressive in the Miami series considering two of the games went to OT.
The Boston fandom felt that there was a three-year championship window when C’s GM Danny Ainge traded to get Garnett in 2007. Well, this is year 5 of the new ‘Big 3’ + Rondo era, and the Celtics are one victory away from reaching the Finals for the third time (2008, 2010) with KG in the Green & White. His mental toughness, savvy and amazing athleticism have Boston in a position that few hoopsheads predicted at the start of the 2011-2012 season or when the playoffs began. If this is Garnett’s last year with the C’s (his contract is up) then he’s determined to leave it all on the floor and to hang another banner from the rafters before the end of his legendary career as a Celtic.