HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Kevin Garnett has made it clear on more than one occasion that those who do not believe in him are the ones that keep his wicked intensity at an all-time high.
The naysayers are the ones who help him dig down deep for the sorts of performances we’ve seen from the Celtics’ big man this postseason and the ones we will continue to see from him until he decides he’s done.
Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon‘s choice words about Garnett — he called Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league,” among other things — have kept him on edge ever since that first round series against the Hawks, an edge Garnett continues to play with as the Celtics inch closer to a return trip to The Finals.
If you thought the 2012 playoffs would serve as his platform to remind the world that he remains one of the game’s most dominant power forwards, you have a vision the rest of us lacked. But here he is, some 17 years deep into a Hall of Fame career and he’s still grinding his way through games. Not much is different for him from 10 or 12 years ago, when Garnett was still trying to become the force of nature he’s been throughout his career.
Garnett’s been nothing short of an absolute beast this postseason, leading the crowd with nine 20-point, 10-rebound games — for years the gold standard for power forward play.
He also added yet another masterpiece interview to his collection (you remember his immediate reaction after the Celtics won it all five years ago … “anything’s possible!”) when he hooked up with ESPN’s Doris Burke on the court in Miami after the Celtics’ Game 5 win over the Heat last night.
You don’t have to love Garnett’s ways. You don’t even have to like him. But how can anyone not respect the way the man goes about his business?
When he stepped to the line last night with the Celtics up two and just 8.8 seconds to play, you knew he was going to sink those free throws. He’s done just about everything else he could for the Celtics, who are playing without another legitimate starting center, which has forced Garnett into that role for much of this postseason.
“[KG] is our life,” his coach, Doc Rivers, said. “He does so many things that don’t have numbers [attached] to it.”
Garnett’s numbers in Game 5 — 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, including a crucial swat of a LeBron James layup late — served as the backbone for the Celtics’ biggest road win of the season.
Not bad for a guy whose haters assumed he had run out of performances like the ones he’s delivering nightly for the Celtics in these playoffs.
Maybe anything really is possible, provided you have the right fuel for KG’s fire.