Throughout the Celtics latest losing streak, there seems to be a lot of reflection going on within the team's locker room. A few days ago it was Doc Rivers questioning how bad the team 'wants it' and threatening to get rid of players if the team doesn't start winning. Last night Paul Pierce questioned the team's mental toughness. Among those currently in a state of self-reflecting - Kevin Garnett. KG seemed to take last night's loss to Cleveland especially hard, possibly because Cavs big man Tristan Thompson put up 21 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in the game, thoroughly winning the 1-on-1 battle with the future Hall of Famer.
After the game, Garnett pointed the finger at himself. From A. Sherrod Blakely's CSNNE column (link).
I don't know man; I don't know man. I want it so bad. I have to find a balance. Some of the things I messed up on tonight, that's not me.
I have to be better. I have to do better. I have to be more effective for 48 minutes, regardless.
You can find yourself wanting this a lot to the point where you mess up and make mistakes," Garnett said. "It's a human game. You gonna make mistakes. I just have to be better, period. No excuses. No (bleep). I have to be better, period.
Garnett is really frustrated with the team's play, and I think I know why. KG has officially entered the final stage of his career, and over the past few years has slowly shifted from 'One of the best players to ever play the game' to simply 'Another very good NBA player'. As he watches his team hit the halfway point of a season below .500, I think that he's becoming increasing frustrated about his inability to single handedly change the direction of the team. All great players feel like they should be able to carry their team in times of trouble, and Garnett, like everyone else eventually does, has reached the point in his career where he can no longer do that. He's still able to give his team 30 fantastic minutes a night, play as hard as anyone could possibly expect, and outplay his counterpart more nights than not. But he cannot carry the team. Nor should be expected to at age 36.
Another reason for KG's frustration? The great play of opposing big men during the four game skid. While Garnett has put up solid numbers of his own - 15.7 points, 5.7 boards, and 2 blocks a game - check out what the other guys have done.
New Orleans: Robin Lopez: 17 points (7-11 FG), 6 rebounds; Anthony Davis: 10 points (4-5 FG), 10 boards
Chicago: Carlos Boozer: 19 points (8-17 FG), 20 boards; Joakim Noah: 14 points (6-11 FG), 13 boards
Detroit: Greg Monroe: 15 pts (6-11 FG), 11 rebounds; Jason Maxiell: 6 points (2-4 FG), 5 boards
Cleveland: Tristan Thompson: 21 pts. (9-18 FG), 9 rebounds; Tyler Zeller: 6 points (2-10 FG), 10 boards
The eight front court opponents have averaged 13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and shot 50.6% from the field. At least one player in each game has gone for 15+ points and 10+ boards.
While this certainly isn't all on Garnett (hello Brandon Bass!), for a guy who takes as much pride in his defense as he does - it no doubt hurts.
Fortunately (or unfortunately if you choose to look at it negatively) for Garnett and the Celtics, they will not have much time to dwell on the loss. Starting tomorrow night: 3 games in 4 night's against 3 of the top 6 teams in the East (New York Thursday, Atlanta Friday and Miami Sunday). Whatever your view of this Celtics team is, one this is certain: it's now or never for them to put something together.
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 1/23/2013 01:40:00 PM Tweet