We’ve known all season long that Kevin Garnett isn’t Kevin Garnett. When he first returned, I tried to pretend he was back to normal when I saw him rise for alley oops and drain midrange jumpers in the preseason, but I was only kidding myself. Garnett hasn’t been himself all season. Not even close. He’s rounding into shape, but since when does he get beat so often defensively? Since when does he let rebounds fall into an opponent’s hand, rather than his own? Since when is he not the most dominant player on both ends of the floor?
We all want Garnett to be the KG we knew, loved and celebrated with two seasons ago. We want him to slap 26 and 14 on Los Angeles in game six, and we want to see that absurd, hanging, one-handed bank shot one more time. We want him to wave in an opposing point guard’s face as KG hounds him down the floor, close enough to smell the flavor of the point guard’s gum. We want him nailing jumpers, and making that patented move of his down low. Both feet firmly on the floor, to keep his pivot. Head, shoulder, and ball fake one way, keeping both feet firmly on the ground. Got to keep both pivot feet available. Defender goes one way, KG pivots the other, and it’s over. His shot is up, and it’s going in. Cash.
But Garnett isn’t reviving from his half-dead state. It’s not going to happen. Garnett has become what he will be: An effective, but not dominant, second fiddle. Maybe even third fiddle. Fourth? He is no longer the C’s best player, and he won’t be ever again.
Doc Rivers says KG’s turned the corner and is playing well, but there’s something missing: his balance.
“Whatever corner that is,” he said. “I think Kevin’s fine. He still doesn’t have great balance down low. When he gets hit, I think he loses his balance. Other than that, I think everything else is back.”
Is it that simple? Is it just his balance?
Because, to me, everything looks a little off. He can’t jump as high. How many alley-oops has Garnett missed the season? More than he missed combined during his previous 14 years, I’d be willing to wager. He can’t move as quickly laterally. How many times have you seen Garnett get beat? He used to get in a frenzied state and harass point guards full-court, damn it. Now, he can’t even stay in front of Matt Bonner.
Is that all attributable to his balance? Is it really all the balance?
Something tells me no.