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When media and fans give credit to the Celtics surprising playoff run this Spring most of the credit goes to Rajon Rondo. After that, you hear about how great a coach Doc is or how Pierce has shown again that he's the Truth. You also get the "I'm so glad Danny didn't trade Ray" sentiment. Further down the list, you have Perkins finally getting his due for his defense and the bench getting praise. The forgotten man is Kevin Garnett.

Why? Well because offensive numbers get the glory. KG didn't score a lot versus the Magic, but his defense throughout the playoffs has been historic. I was talking to tb727 the other day about how remarkable it is that everyone worried about how 2009/2010 KG would do against quicker 4's. Guys like Rashard Lewis and Antawn Jamsion. Even young quick 4's like Michael Beasley. In our conversation I stated that KG has totally shut them down and I need to write on this. Luckily for me before I even researched the stats, I came across a post on this very subject that does the argument much more justice. I contacted the writer and he has allowed me to post it on Celtics Life. If you are more than just a casual Celtics fan, please read the entire piece.

-By Andre' Snellings of Rotowire.com
I've been surprised that nobody is really talking much about what Garnett has been doing on defense this postseason. I've been watching basketball a lot of years, and frankly...I'm not sure I've ever even heard of someone having a defensive run like KG is on in these playoffs. Michael Beasley, Antawn Jamison and Rashard Lewis are all good-to-very-good offensive players. Two are recent All Stars. All are consistent 15 - 20 ppg scorers that are among the leading offensive threats for their respective teams. And most importantly, all were playing really well before they faced Boston and even did great against Boston...as long as Garnett wasn't on the court. To whit...

Beasley
'10 reg season: 14.8 ppg, 45% FG, 1.7 TOs, 30 min/game
'10 playoffs Celtics (KG on bench): 19.5 points/30 min, 62% FG, 2.2 TOs/30 min
'10 playoffs Celtics (KG in game): 7.7 points/30 min, 32% FG, 3.2 TOs/30 min

Jamison
Jamison: '10 reg season: 18.7 ppg, 46% FG, 1.4 TOs, 37 min
Jamison: '10 playoffs (not Boston): 19.4 ppg, 51% FG, 1.8 TOs, 35 min/game
Jamison '10 playoffs (Celtics, KG on bench): 26 points/36 min, 56% FG, 0 TOs/36 min
Jamison '10 playoffs (Celtics, KG in game): 11.2 points/36, 38% FG, 1.9 TOs/36

Lewis
Lewis '10 Reg season: 14.1 ppg, 43.5% FG, 1.5 TOs, 33 min
Lewis '10 playoffs (not Boston): 16.4 ppg, 54% FG, 1.8 TOs, 37 min
Lewis '10 playoffs (Celtics, KG on bench): 17.3 pts/36 min, 48% FG, 1.3 TOs/36
Lewis '10 playoffs (Celtics, KG in game): 5.1 pts/36, 24% FG, 2.0 TOs/36


KG is usually given credit as a "defensive anchor"... a help-defender that you can build an elite defense around. And despite the injuries this year he's still that, as every way that we have to measure defensive impact would attest to. But in these playoffs, KG has been performing as a defensive stopper (someone that takes their individual assignment out of the game) on an absurd level.

Most of the time, when a defender is credited for winning a match-up against a good scorer, it is because they slightly limited the opponent's scoring and made them have to work extra hard for every bucket. The idea of "can't really stop him, just contain him and make him less efficient". If a defender takes a few points off their opponent's scoring average and 5% points off their shooting percentage, they are usually deemed to have "stopped" the player. But in this playoffs, KG is essentially cutting his opponent's scoring in half, taking 15 - 20% off their field goal percentage, and adding a full turnover. I know I'm biased because I'm a KG fan but really...how is this not news?

The narrative from every round thus far has been essentially that the opposing PF should be ashamed of himself for not showing up. Beasley has been catching major heat in Miami (heh), people are panning the Jamison trade for the Cavs, and everyone is gutting Lewis for his big contract. But there's one common denominator here...Garnett and the Celtics' defense (can't minimize the team defense as a whole, because everyone has been great and Perk especially has been a rock) have erased these guys. Terminated them. I know defense isn't as sexy as offense, but it just seems to me that this should be getting more attention than it has...

JR 6/02/2010 06:07:00 PM Edit
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12 Responses so far.

  1. Great article! Thanks for sharing. Strange that this has gone so under the radar. Just proves that points make news. Gasol is definitely a much bigger threat than Beasley, Jamison or Lewis though. It'd be phenomenal if Garnett reduces his numbers as much as he did the others. One could argue that the Gasol-Garnett matchup could be the most important or the series.

  2. tb727 says:

    Beware Lamar Scrotum and Pau Gasoft- your end is near.

  3. Jenda says:

    Very good one. I have to confess I didn't even think of it that way - defense is just not that easy to be seen while watching the game.
    On the other hand:
    "I know I'm biased because I'm a KG fan but really...how is this not news?"
    How IS that news for a KG fan? lol

  4. JR says:

    Yeah Jenda, I knew he was playing great defense, but these stats show he's been out of this world. Offense gets the fame. On defense you have to get tons of blocks or steals to get noticed or you need to shut down a superstar. Much harder to get recognized. There's a reason the C's haven't lost a playoff series with KG in the line up. He's a difference maker.

  5. candy says:

    Finally someone is seeing what I see... I have always admired KG's defense!!! That's what makes him a champ... WHEN KG stops Gasol and Odom... then everyone will see what KG is all about!!!

  6. Karl says:

    Great article! I must confess I didn't know how dominant Garnett was either this postseason defensively. I bought into the fact that the forwards from the other team were just playing badly. KG is a beast!

  7. Jeff says:

    @ Mike

    I agree I think the Gasol-Garnett matchup will be a huge telling point on the series.

    It's funny because I knew that Beasley, Jamison, and Lewis were pretty woeful when they played us but for some reason I didn't see 'the common denominator' either!

  8. rondo-is-love says:

    You know what pisses me off the most about all this?

    People are almost refusing to give KG any credit for his defense. Just because he's older and doesn't have the lateral quickness doesn't mean he doesn't deserve the credit!

    I was over at a Magic blog the other day and fans are refusing to give KG any credit. In fact, they're saying Lewis's viral infection had more to do with it than anything else. They have got to be kidding me. They insisted that Magic bloggers/fans noticed Lewis looked "off" before the news broke out, but how is it that we didn't see any of that anywhere? And when Lewis was finally asked about it, he made it seem like it was soooooo hard to keep his food down and what not... and I'm sorry, but when you have trouble keeping your food down, it becomes noticeable to anyone who's seen Lewis play plenty of times.

    KG definitely deserves credit for shutting down all three of them. But Gasol and Odom (when he's having a good game) are different monsters.

    LET'S GET IT, C's!!

  9. ThomasJ says:

    Amen. Thanks for posting the article JR! It's nice to see the statistical breakdown illustrating KGs defensive presence.

    One point I haven't heard talked about in the run up to this series is:

    Not taking anything away from Gasol & Odom but through the first three series LA has played they haven't faced an interior presence on the level of Andy Varejao, much less Dwight Howard.

    Seriously. Our inside D is on an entirely different planet than OKC, Utah, and Phoenix.

  10. Bohemian says:

    KG is awesome, the reason why we are on the second final in three years.

  11. Jenda says:

    RIL I have trouble keeping my food down every single time I watch Lewis play since he's with Magic. lol

  12. Patti says:

    KG is my favorite player on this awesome team. He is very effective and intense, yet does not get the credit from the analysts that he deserves. I believe! LET'S GO CELTICS!!!

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