After missing two consecutive outings due to a personal matter, Kevin Garnett is expected to return Thursday night when the Celtics travel to Oklahoma City to meet the Thunder. (Boston Herald)
“We just have to get our guys back,” coach Doc Rivers said. “The season is long. Who wants to be a game under .500 going into Oklahoma? Having said that, we’ll get Kevin back, which is huge for us with Paul and Ray. After the break Brandon will be back, and then we have to make a run.”
We spend a lot of time wondering why Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have looked so pedestrian lately. Part of it has been the absence of Garnett and Bass, the two primary floor-spacing bigs on Doc Rivers’ roster.
“When (Garnett and Bass) are out, you have nobody who can stretch the game at (power forward), and then Paul and Ray’s games are going to struggle,” Rivers said. “They’re going to clog the paint and trap everything, and that’s what they should do.”
“Like we always say, we play everybody, and we have to play a little differently. The difficulty for us is not having Kevin and Brandon. With non-shooters (on the floor) they’re trapping Paul and Ray all over the floor. There’s not a lot of ways to go.”
If you’re keeping track at home, the Celtics have averaged 83.4 points per game since Bass last played, including just 77.0 points per game in the two games Garnett also missed. There are other factors at play of course, but Boston misses having bigs who pose threats. I’ve loved Chris Wilcox, but the next time an opponent even thinks about defending him during a pick-and-pop situation will be the first. And teams treat Jermaine O’Neal like he just laid the worst fart ever — they clear the area and give him as much space as they can.
The Celtics at their best are a jump-shooting team that can’t get to the hoop very often. The Celtics without Garnett and Bass out of the lineup become a jump-shooting team with just two jump-shooters in the starting lineup and still very few creators — and the results have been predictably gory.
So welcome back, Kevin. You’re returning to a mess, but you’re part of the solution.