Despite the Celtics having recovered from a Game 1 loss in Boston and winning a thriller in Game 5, the Celtics still are not entirely themselves.
When a player of Kevin Garnett’s ability (15.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.2 BPG) is replaced by a player generously listed at 6’9” and vertically challenged in Glen "Big Baby" Davis (7.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.3 BPG), the difference is more than just shot-blocking and rebounding.
Garnett is the leading man behind the Celtics gritty, grimy, explicit style of play. Boston is infamous for its dirty play from every position.
Kendrick Perkins was among the league leaders in technicals (12), and bench players Davis (290 pounds) and Leon Powe (a defined 240 pounds) are more enforcers than basketball players, brutally punishing anyone down low with their generously wide statures.
The Celtics are also notorious for dirty, highly illegal screens, which is probably more mentally debilitating than anything. The frontcourt’s attitude affects their backcourt players, which is seen in their incredibly frisky defensive style.
I understand the Celtics have established that they use a more physical style of play. They play a man’s style of basketball, similar to that played at the local playground on a hot summer day.
And compared to teams of old, this Celtics team is rather reserved. Teams like the “Bad Boys” of the '90s required the opposition to wear body armor when coming into the lane.
Despite being a religious Laker fan, I respect the Celtics' style of play, of which I had the worst view in last year’s Finals. Garnett is the catalyst for this mentality with his over-the-top tenacity combined with his physical ability.
Will the Celtics be able to create this defensive mentality in the wake of KG’s “season-ending” injury?
I anxiously await the answer to this question with hopes of creating a more highly competitive playoffs.