Garnett-Less Celtics Proving They Remain Beasts of the East

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst IFebruary 24, 2009

It was only less than a week ago when Kevin Garnett strained his knee in a 90-85 loss to the Utah Jazz. And with that, the critics came out of the woodwork, like termites in a rotted old house, saying that Boston would slide without their big man.

Celtics fans grasped onto their four-leaf clovers to later discover the strained knee would leave Garnett only out for two to three weeks.

Damage limited and wish granted.

With “The Big Ticket” temporarily expired, the door was open for teams like the Cavs and Magic to cash in—pushing towards the grand prize—pushing towards Eastern Conference homecourt advantage.

Only…someone forgot to tell Boston this was the case.

What a difference a couple of days can make. The Celtics opened up a road trip at Phoenix, followed by a trip to Denver, sure to falter without their talented big man, right?


Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis have proven enough of a temporary stopgap at the Center position vacated by Garnett. As for the Celtics, they’ve been implementing just another version of small ball, if you will.

It certainly worked well matching the pace of the Suns with a 128-108 victory, where Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce combined for 89 of Boston’s 128 points.

And as for the road trip to take on George Karl’s Nuggets…Boston never even skipped a beat—dominating Denver on their home court, in a 114-76 victory that was never in doubt, as the stingy Celtics defense held the Nuggets to under 35 percent shooting.

And like their talented Western Conference counterparts, the Lakers, the Celtics have proven that losing one talented piece isn’t enough to send a team into a downward spiral.

In fact, the talented teams in the NBA are not only built around one star, but also team depth and solid coaching. Guys like Kobe, Pierce, and Garnett are great, but the team performance is a sum of all its parts.

And that’s where we leave the Celtics, still perched atop the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of Cleveland, and three-and-a-half ahead of Orlando.

The Celtics have adjusted to life without Garnett for the time being. Certainly, they miss his presence on the court, but the lit-up scoreboards wouldn’t show it. And for the duration of the early timeframe that Garnett is out, the schedule is favorable, with matchups against the Clippers, Pacers, Pistons, and Nets on the horizon.

After facing that .500 or lower quartet of opponents, the Celtics will have a tangle with the other aforementioned powers in the East—but that’s where Garnett’s return could become interesting. If KG is out two weeks, that hits March 5, the day after the Nets game.

If instead Boston goes three weeks without Garnett, then a potential March 12 date becomes an interesting timeframe considering that Boston faces Cleveland and Orlando at home on March 6 and 8, respectively.

Just days later, the critics have moved on—and the Celtics have too. For now, Kevin Garnett’s absence doesn’t seem to matter, as the Celtics have more than answered the challenge.