Why the Magic Want Kevin Garnett to Play in the Magic-Celtics Series

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Why the Magic Want Kevin Garnett to Play in the Magic-Celtics Series
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

You may think that a team would do anything they could to avoid having to play Kevin Garnett...ever.

But the Magic might just be hoping that KG pulls off a miracle and gets healthy in time to play some part of the Magic-Celtics second round match-up.

That's right. I think KG playing makes the Magic a better team.

And that's because he is 1 of 1 men who can capably guard Dwight Howard for the 40 minutes that he's on the court. Though it might sound like a bad thing for the Magic and their most dominant offensive weapon, if you've watched the Magic at their best this and last year, then you might be able to understand why it's not.

The Magic have the capability to shoot any team out of the arena and the World Champion Celtics are no different. If they run up and down the court and find open looks (which they will, if they run) they can blow out any team.

But the Magic are all too often reluctant to, as Rafer Alston puts it, 'run past your best offense [Howard].' What this can create is a slow, stagnant offense. Sure, Dwight will put up monster numbers, but the shooters will be ice cold and Dwight will be too tired to be a genuine presence on the defensive end—where Dwight can make the biggest impact on the game. Hardly a formula victory.

A common justification for this tactic is that the Magic are trying to play Inside-Out basketball, which is all well and good. But because D-12 has the ball distribution skills that he does, any attempts to get the ball back out to the perimeter is more likely to find it's way into the hands of shifty Celtic Guards Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen than it is into those of knockdown shooters Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu.

How Kevin Garnett fits into all this is that he can actually shut down Dwight Howard on his own, an ability that appears entirely unique to him. In this scenario, the Magic will quickly learn that they need to play small, push the ball up the court and take open jumpers, as apposed to leisurely plod the ball up-court and heave a high pass into Howard in the post, so that he can be rejected by Garnett.

And having Howard reduced to a passenger on offense will come in very handy when he, in turn, is  fresh and patrolling the paint, making the Celtics play from outside, where they are able, but not as comfortable as Orlando.

It also creates match-up problems elsewhere for the Cs. With KG on D-12, Perkins would be forced to shift down to Rashard Lewis, who he simply doesn't have a hope in hell of guarding which most likely sends him to the bench. Glen Davis would have similar issues guarding Lewis. The most sensible defender to assign to 'Shard would be Pierce, although he could also be useful in guarding Turkoglu (Lewis And Turkoglu are very similar in stature and fairly similar in skill set).

And so, in conclusion, though it may seem like a ridiculous suggestion, there is some method to the madness.

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