Kevin Garnett Injured: Questions Raised for the Boston Celtics If KG Misses Time
Kevin Garnett suffered a right leg injury during the first quarter of the Celtics' eventual 104-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
In a play eerily similar to the one nearly two years ago in Utah—the play which eventually cost KG his season and the Celtics a chance to defend their title—Garnett went up for an emphatic jam on a lob pass and came down hobbling and in clear pain.
At first, it looked terrible for Celtic nation. There wasn't a single fan whose mind didn't jump to Garnett's surgically repaired right knee, especially as that's what it looked like he was favoring.
As the game progressed and video showed Garnett hobbling into the locker room and eventually out of the stadium, the thoughts of yet another championship run cut short by injuries loomed all the larger.
However, towards the end of the game "encouraging" news surfaced. Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte diagnosed KG with a "lower leg injury," not a knee injury. An x-ray revealed no fracture in the bone.
While the Celtics still have not received an official diagnosis, and KG has yet to undergo an MRI, all signs point to a more promising prognosis than what was initially thought. This is what Doc Rivers had to say about the ordeal:
"I don't think it's bad, so I'm not that concerned; he's going to miss games probably, I don't know how many, but I don't think it will be that long.''
Doc Rivers seemed just mildly concerned throughout his postgame interview. Doc is the king of the one-day-at-a-time approach—you'll never find him overstating or understating anything when it comes to basketball. He speaks his mind as he best sees a situation, so it's very good that he clearly said that he doesn't think Garnett suffered anything serious.
Yet it's very likely that Garnett will miss some length of time. Even if the diagnosis is something minor like a muscle strain, it's likely that KG could be held out of the lineup purely for precautionary reasons.
It's no secret how important Garnett and his rejuvenated play is to this Celtics team. It's no coincidence that the C's have continued to win games despite a myriad of injuries; or that the Pistons were one of the few teams to shoot over 50 percent against the Celtics this season; or that this loss was the only double-digit loss of the season.
So, if KG was to go out for a certain period of time, who would be most impacted? Who would have to step up in his absence? What does it mean for this Celtics team?
Can Jermaine O'Neal Become The Defensive Stopper They Need Him To Be?
Jermaine O'Neal is no stranger to leg and knee injuries.
O'Neal was brought in this offseason in an attempt to strengthen the depth of the Celtics frontcourt and provide a tenacious, shot-blocking defender who would work well in the complex defensive system that the Celtics run.
So far JO has been limited to just 10 games. He's missed a significant chunk of time with a sore knee and has yet to make his presence felt on this Celtics team.
With Garnett potentially out, the Celtics have lost their defensive captain and best interior defender. O'Neal is the only one who could fill this role in KG's absence.
O'Neal has looked rusty and played sparingly in just his third game back from injury, so it's about time he starts to develop more confidence in his play and comfort level with the system.
The C's have never needed him more than they do now.
Where Does The Energy Come From?
After Garnett went down in the first quarter, the Celtics just looked flat. The C's are amidst a road trip that started on Christmas Eve, and were on the second day of a back-to-back, so their performance is at least understandable.
However, Garnett is notorious for being one of the most—if not the most—passionate and intense player in the game of basketball. It doesn't matter where or when, KG is always the most energetic player on the floor: clapping his hands, getting into the heads of the opposition and inspiring his teammates.
After watching a Garnett-less Celtics team or a less than healthy Garnett play for the last year-and-a-half, the biggest difference was the lack of passion. When KG was down before, this team struggled to get inspired, and as a result, their play suffered.
If Garnett is not on the floor, the C's are going to need the energy to come from somewhere.
When Will The Injuries Stop?
It's truly amazing that the Celtics still hold the best record in the Eastern conference, considering the fact that they've never had a full roster of players at any one point during the season.
Currently, Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo and now Kevin Garnett are on the shelves. That's four of their top 10 rotation players, including three starters.
Shaquille O'Neal has also missed time with a calf injury, and Jermaine O'Neal (as previously stated) is just coming back from a lengthy battle with a sore knee.
It's gotten so bad that they've had to start their fourth string center, Semih Erden, in four games. Semih has played beyond anyone's expectations, but he's still a 24-year-old rookie from Turkey and is still adjusting to the vast differences between American and European basketball.
And not to mention Semih has battled injuries as well. He's had a thumb problem which has forced him to shoot entirely left-handed, as well as a shoulder injury which will require offseason surgery.
We keep talking about when the Celtics will get healthy, but will that day ever come?
Will The Chemistry Get Even Further Out Of Wack?
Last year, the Celtics went 27-27 after Christmas. They suffered a bevy of injuries, and as a result, the rhythm of the few remaining healthy players got eternally messed up.
Since nearly every player on the team had to fill new roles to account for all the injuries, the chemistry was out of wack. Players were doing things that didn't fit their skillsets and often had trouble adjusting to their new roles.
Example A of this was Ray Allen, who shot just 36.3 percent from three, his lowest season total as a member of the Celtics and his worst mark since the 2002 season.
This season, because of all the injuries, players are again having to fill roles that aren't suited greatly for them.
Because of the injuries to guards Rajon Rondo and Delonte West, Nate Robinson has had to play virtually the entire season as a point guard, despite the fact that the Celtics were specifically looking to let Nate open up his offensive game this year and let him fill his best position, the two-guard.
Paul Pierce most recently has become the offensive facilitator in the absence of Rajon Rondo. He's averaging over seven assists per game since Rondo went down. After Garnett left the game Thursday night, Pierce became the offense for the Boston Celtics. In 39 minutes, Pierce dropped 33 points on 16 shots (about three more than his season average), as well as dishing eight assists.
Not to mention Marquis Daniels has had to be the situational specialist all season, and Glen Davis is due for an uptick in minutes.
The bench has had literally no time to function together as a unit, as they've been filling in for all the injured players. Even more injuries could lead to chemistry problems even when/if the C's get everyone healthy.
Can The Celtics Still Capture The Best Record in The NBA?
It's no secret that the only goal of the 2010 Boston Celtics is to win a championship.
After coming up just short of a second NBA title in three seasons last year, securing home court throughout the playoffs was seen as the first stepping stone towards fully realizing their championship aspirations.
Home court advantage could have been just enough for the C's to beat the Lakers last year, as the series went down to the wire.
The C's coasted throughout the second half of the season as injuries and chemistry problems piled up. They certainly want to avoid that scenario again, but is that still a plausible option?
With all the injuries to key players, can the Celtics keep winning and stay in the hunt for the best record in the NBA?
Do The Celtics Look Externally To Help Ease The Injury Problems?
With all the injuries to the front court, will the Celtics look to make a move to bring in some interior depth? It's possible.
One name that has to be considered at this point is Rasheed Wallace.
'Sheed retired last year after just one season with the Celtics. After a lackluster regular season, 'Sheed made good on his promises and came up big in the playoffs, despite a back injury that severely limited his play.
There's still one year left on Rasheed's deal with the Celtics, and there was some speculation before this season even began that 'Sheed could return to a Celtics uniform midway through the season, a la PJ Brown in 2007-08.
Given all the injuries, we could see 'Sheed back in Boston for yet another season.
Will KG Return To Top Form When/If He's Back?
KG's resurgence is one of the main reasons why the Celtics have started so strong. His play this year has been drastically different from his play last season.
No longer is he dragging an injured knee up and down the floor. He's regained full mobility and is currently playing arguably his best basketball as a member of the Celtics.
So, even if Garnett is able to play, will he be able to play at 100 percent?
The Celtics are going to need him performing the way he has performed thus far if they want to win a championship.
So, let's hope so.