Boston Celtics Can Expect More of the Same from Kevin Garnett

Chris Lawrence@@C_law90Featured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 09:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics is taken out of the game in the second quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 9, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett can still play at a high level, and Boston Celtics fans should expect nothing less from the Big Ticket during the 2012-2013 NBA season.

At 36 years old, Garnett has racked up his fair share of miles. In 17 NBA seasons, he has played 1,255 games as well as 125 playoff games.Throughout his entire career, he has never played at half-speed.

And he certainly isn't going to start now.

Consistent with Garnett’s warrior spirit, he will continue to play for as long as he can compete at a high level.

How long will that be, exactly? Probably a year or two.

It’s difficult to imagine Garnett finishing his contract, which he signed this past offseason amid whispers of his potential retirement.

After all, he will be 39 years old by the end of the three-year, $34 million deal.

But you never know.

During the 2009-2010 season, a sluggish and banged up Garnett showed his age for much of the campaign and struggled offensively during the postseason. The possibility of his retirement was raised then, too.

And what did he do next the following season? A rejuvenated Garnett returned and nabbed his 14th  NBA All-Star selection.

Garnett was slow to start the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 campaign. Despite that, he was arguably the team’s MVP during the second half of the season, leading the Celtics to a 24-10 record after the All-Star break.

Not only that, but he was nearly a 20-10 player during the postseason as he was forced to play center due to the Celtics’ thin frontcourt.

Time and time again, Garnett has asserted himself as the team’s defensive cornerstone.

But he has also breathed life into an often times anemic Celtics offense that has struggled to score the ball consistently over the past three seasons.

Simply put, you can’t underestimate the Big Ticket's value to the Boston Celtics.

Garnett may not dazzle the same way he did last season, but you can hedge your bets on him being a major force.

And everyone knows he's going to bring the same intensity and championship fire this season, beginning in South Beach on opening night against Lebron James and the Miami Heat.

However optimistic we are, though, we have to recognize that Garnett is not a natural center and will have a difficult go of it against the Dwight Howards, Andrew Bynums and Roy Hibberts of the world.

There’s no sugarcoating that.

But the good news is that, outside of those three, Garnett will be able to go to work against opposing centers, especially in the Eastern Conference.

Plus, the signing of stop-gap center Jason Collins should take some of the onus off Garnett when going up against bruisers of the Dwight Howard variety.

Garnett also won’t have to play as many minutes this season because of the Celtics’ newfound frontcourt depth. It’s comforting to know that Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Collins and rookie Jared Sullinger will be able to eat up plenty of frontcourt minutes at various stages of the game.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers will even have the luxury of sitting Garnett during the first or second game of back-to-backs.

The importance of keeping Garnett fresh for a deep playoff run cannot be stressed enough. At long last, the Celtics have the frontcourt depth to provide him with adequate rest.

All things considered, it’s reasonable to expect Garnett to average 13 points and six rebounds per game while shooting in the high 40s. Provided that the Celtics get the offensive contributions expected from the remainder of the lineup (Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, etc.), those numbers should be more than enough.

It’s also fair to have reservations about Garnett’s effectiveness this season, simply because of his age.

However, his reputation as a consummate professional who takes his conditioning and game preparation very, very seriously makes it difficult to envision a drastic decline on the horizon.

Plus, Garnett was able to churn out over 19 points and 10 rebounds per game during last year's playoffs. As long as he is healthy, some of that production will carry over to this season.

Though his age and experience essentially make him a dinosaur in professional sports, Garnett will continue to defy the test of time.

And though all good things really do must come to an end, it’s not over for Kevin Garnett.

Not yet.


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