Kevin Garnett had no recollection whatsoever of the play that helped kick-start the Boston Celtics’ comeback Game 5 victory. He has claimed in the past that he listens to fans rather than checking the scoreboard to see how the Celtics are doing. But in this case, Garnett had no memory of the TD Garden spectators erupting as loudly as they had all night, chanting, “Bull-shit, bull-shit” after he was called for an offensive foul while attempting to finish over Spencer Hawes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Garnett replied to the reporter who asked about the play. ”I can’t see the difference [in the crowd] between minute and minute. I feel like every minute I look up, I see my family, I hear people yelling, I see the drunk fat guy.”
The 76ers’ collapse had actually started a possession before The Big Ticket’s offensive foul, when Philadelphia botched a major opportunity to extend a 57-53 lead. Andre Iguodala missed a pair of free throws that resulted from a clear-path foul, and the Sixers committed a turnover on their following possession. But the Celtics’ run did not begin until after the questionable foul call on Garnett awakened a crowd that had previously been dormant.
With the 20,000-plus in attendance screaming for the referees’ heads, the Celtics pieced together a perfect defensive stand, ultimately resulting in a three-second violation on Philadelphia. Garnett canned a jumper to bring the Celtics within 57-55, spurring a 48-28 game-ending Celtics run that lasted 17 minutes.
“I thought we had a good grip of the game,” said Doug Collins, “and it went downhill quickly.”
It went downhill surrounded by a landscape of Brandon Bass buckets and Rajon Rondo dominance. It went so very downhill for Philadelphia that Gino snapped out of a long nap to perform on the Jumbotron in the fourth quarter, and the most exciting part of the final minutes was a “Scal-a-breen-ee” chant for CSNNE’s newest analyst. Philadelphia, after controlling the entire first half and coming within 20 minutes of heading home with a 3-2 series lead, now faces elimination on Wednesday.
Doc Rivers wasn’t 100 percent sure whether Garnett’s foul was the spark for Boston’s run, but he had a better memory than his starting center.
“You could say the foul called on Kevin (Garnett) – I thought from that point on we exploded,” Rivers said. “You know, like I said, it was one of those games, we needed something to ignite us together. And I don’t know if that didn’t do it, I don’t know what did it, but something did it, and once we started playing right then we played very well.”
Garnett was his typically descriptive self when explaining the impact the crowd can have on his play.
“It’s like taking a cold shower and stepping into a freezer that’s below-60 [degrees],” he said. Because everyone knows that feeling.
The Celtics weren’t expected to need a boost from the crowd on Monday, not in a critical Game 5 with the season perhaps hanging in the balance. But after the Celtics (and the crowd, for that matter) struggled with energy for the opening half, an extra surge of motivation was required. A questionable call catalyzed the crowd, which catalyzed Garnett, who catalyzed Bass and the rest of his teammates, who all worked together as the Celtics forcefully prevailed.
The whole sequence of events could be traced back to Garnett’s offensive foul. He just doesn’t remember.