Paul Flannery wrote a wonderful piece on the revitalization of Kevin Garnett. In the midst of all the panic and mass outcry, it’s nice to take a moment and reflect on one major positive: Garnett’s return to greatness. (WEEI)
It gradually became evident as the season began that Garnett was like a player reborn. Or maybe he was just back to the way he had always been. While Rivers kept careful watch over his minutes, Garnett reasserted himself as a dominant defensive rebounder and a consistent offensive player. He also suffered just one significant injury – a strained right calf against the Pistons – and missed only nine games.
He had huge outings against the Magic and Lakers in January, exorcising some — but certainly not all — of the demons from the previous season. And during the last month and a half while the Celtics have tuned in and out, Garnett has remained the one consistently effective player in the lineup. For Celtics fans looking for a sign of hope amid this six-week stretch of frustration, Garnett’s play is the most significant reason.
Garnett was credited with changing the culture upon his arrival and now he seems intent to try and prolong its existence. He has reached out to the new additions and they have all noted his assistance in helping ease their transition. “He knows how to win and he’s helping everybody especially me and the new guys,” Nenad Krstic said. “He’s been really helpful for us.”
If you’re looking for a less visible revitalization, look at Paul Pierce. A knee injury (fluid squirted out of his knee during the playoffs) left Pierce a shell of himself. Lebron murdered him in round two, Artest bottled him up in the Finals, and Pierce could hardly create a good look for himself. He even had his patented stepback blocked a few times, and that happens about as often as the Toronto Raptors win an NBA championship. But Pierce, like Garnett, came back with lighter legs and a rejuvenated body.
Pierce and Garnett’s next task? Snap themselves and their teammates out of a collective (and deep) slumber. It’s time to roll.