Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett Have Different Views Of This Boston Celtics Team

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

Jan. 28, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics forward (34) Paul Pierce and forward (5) Kevin Garnett against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have some pretty divergent views about the future of the Boston Celtics.

Apparently unperturbed by a recent four-game slide that has dropped Boston’s overall record to an alarming 14-17, Pierce has pretty clearly revealed himself to be a “glass half full” kind of guy.

According to the Boston Globe, “Pierce said he believes the Celtics will come to life and make another deep playoff run.”

It’s nice that the Celtics’ small forward has such an optimistic take on his team’s prospects, no matter how daunting the negative vibes in Boston might feel.

But what about KG, arguably the league’s leader in the clubhouse for the title of “Crankiest Old Man?” Is his outlook similarly positive?

Not so much.

When asked whether he shared in Pierce’s hopeful prediction, Garnett told the Globe, “Paul said he was certain [about a run], I never said that. I never said I was certain. That’s what I’m telling you.”

Wait a minute. Isn’t anything possible, Kevin? 

There. That’s more like it.

Anyway, Boston’s veteran center didn’t stop there, subsequently launching into his thoughts on whether the rest of the Celtics are playing with enough competitive fire. He stopped short of calling out anyone specific, and he never directly said his teammates weren’t giving maximum effort.

But he’s obviously none too psyched about the current state of the Celtics.

These are dog days. This is when you really see who’s with you right now. Ain’t nobody cheering, ain’t no lights on us right now. I love this right here because this is where all the plastic people melt right here. Like I said, look at themselves in the mirror, including myself, and try to figure out what I can do better to help this team.

It’s funny. If you needed a snapshot of Garnett’s general approach to basketball, that quotation pretty much embodies it. He’s drawing a line in the sand and challenging his teammates to join him on the right side of it, and he’s doing it in an almost overtly threatening manner.

At the same time, he’s making a point to lead by example and put the team first. That’s KG in a nutshell.

Stepping back a bit, Garnett’s less-than-rosy opinion about his team is probably warranted. At the moment, Boston is tied for 20th in offensive efficiency, while its once-elite defense checks in at No. 14 in the league with a figure of 102.1 points allowed per 100 possessions.

Perhaps most telling is the Celtics’ total disappearing act on the boards.

They’re dead last in the NBA in rebound rate.

So if a lack of effort is at the root of KG’s dissatisfaction, he’s got some pretty good evidence to support his case. Rebounding—more than any other aspect of basketball—is about effort. Sure, positioning and quickness matter, but as a general rule, the team battling harder is the one that pulls down a bigger share of boards.

In keeping with Garnett’s pledge to look first at what he can do better, it’s only fair to point out that KG is actually part of the problem on the glass.  His current rebound rate of 14.6 is the worst mark of his career, so if he’s looking at ways to help his team, he could start there.

The bottom line with this year’s Celtics is that the old guys have gotten older and the new pieces haven’t quite fit together as well as GM Danny Ainge might have hoped. It’s understandable that Garnett has been speaking with more skepticism about his team’s future than Pierce has, but it might not be the best way to pull together a club that has so many new faces.

Pierce’s stated confidence in his team is the better approach during tough times, especially since KG can no longer support his “tough love” barking with elite play.

Overall, Garnett’s long-term opinion on the Celtics is probably closer to the truth. But Pierce’s optimism has the better chance of pulling Boston out of its present rut.