If Doug Collins’ comments after Game 1 were any indication, Kevin Garnett should continue to find himself open for jump shots for the remainder of the series.
Collins did not advocate leaving Garnett entirely open, but recognized that the 76ers will not over-commit to stopping KG’s midrange game because doing so might free a number of other Celtics.
“I don’t know what else we could have done,” the 76ers coach said. “He made a lot of tough shots. He hits those long jump shots. We are not going to run out at him — we’re going to try to get a hand in his face — but all of a sudden you start running around and doing all that, you free up Paul Pierce and all these other guys. I mean you have to pick your poison. Kevin is playing great. I mean he is playing great. He’s hitting all these shots. He’s fading shots off the glass. I mean he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play. My hat’s off to him. But I don’t think there was anything we did poorly with him. I just think that some times you get trumped.”
Translation: Shit, I wish we could just cling to Garnett’s jersey all game. But if we do that, we have nobody protecting the rim. Then Paul Pierce starts to manufacture easy buckets with his penetration, Rajon Rondo has an even easier job breaking down the defense and suddenly everybody’s killing you instead of just one person.
I think the Sixers will live with KG’s midrange jumpers for two reasons: 1) It’s not a three-pointer, and 2) He can’t draw free throws while he’s shooting from the perimeter. For those two reasons, the long two-point jumper is the world’s most inefficient shot. KG hits it at a better rate than almost anyone else, but Collins is right to an extent. You can’t completely dedicate yourself to stopping Garnett’s perimeter game because that opens more efficient scoring opportunities for some of his teammates.
When dozens of flames are jumping off KG’s right hand and nobody else on the roster excepting Rondo seems to be doing anything of substance, it’s easy to call Collins crazy. But the Celtics as a team shot just 43.9 percent. Allowing KG relatively open shots in favor of shutting down his teammates came one point away from working.