They have not had a 6-foot-11 pinpoint passer since Bill Walton was rejuvenated in the 1985-86 championship season. That luxury will be part of the Boston Celtics' offensive repertoire this season, however, with Kevin Garnett and his accurate passing game.
They have not had a 6-foot-11 pinpoint passer since Bill Walton was rejuvenated in the 1985-86 championship season.
That luxury will be part of the Boston Celtics' offensive repertoire this season, however, with Kevin Garnett and his accurate passing game.
The 31-year-old forward gave a glimpse of coming attraction in the final preseason game Friday night, recording a triple-double in a 114-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Garnett had 10 assists to go with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and his effectiveness as a passer was most impressive.
"Kevin is tremendous,” said forward Paul Pierce. "We're going to play through Kevin, the way he passes the ball, the way he gives us a low-post presence.
"He's going to open up things for everybody else. There's so many things he can do. He should be the best player in the league this season.”
Garnett has little trouble getting rid of the ball when he is double-teamed inside, and finds Pierce and Ray Allen on the outside for open jumpers. He is also making life easier for center Kendrick Perkins, who is often left alone near the basket and was on the receiving end of quick touch passes.
The opportunities to tally up assists are going to be plentiful this season for Garnett, who has averaged 4.5 in 927 career games. Garnett's best season was 2002-03 when he averaged six a game.
Having scorers like Pierce and Allen, plus reserve Eddie House, awaiting his passes is going make Garnett even more dangerous.
"We're going to go inside a lot to Kevin and they're going double and we'll be right there on the perimeter waiting for him,” Allen said.
Garnett, who capped his triple-double with a long pass to House for a breakaway basket, had 16 regular-season triple doubles and three in the playoffs for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Two of his three last season came against the Celtics when he had 33 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in Boston and 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Minnesota.
Getting a triple-double in a preseason game is close to unheard of since minutes and rotations are inconsistent, but Garnett pulled it off against the Cavs.
"It's rare, but he plays so hard whenever he's playing,” Coach Doc Rivers said. "That's just who he is. And he's so unselfish.
"The fact that he had a triple-double is because he had so many shooters around him. When he's passing the ball out now, shots are going in. I'm sure in the past he's made those same passes and the shot didn't go in.”
Garnett, who has led the NBA in rebounding the past four seasons and averages 20.5 points in his career, enjoys the passing part of his game.
With fellow All-Stars Allen and Pierce alongside, Garnett is going to have better chance to show off that part of his game this season, which begins Friday night against the Washington Wizards at home.
"Assists, for me, that means the ball is moving, that means I'm getting guys open shots,” Garnett said. "That's what I value, man -- the fact that I can get Paul Pierce, who is one of the elite players in this league, an open shot, I can get Ray Allen, who is an elite player in this league, an open shot.
"That's what I do. I take a lot of pride in my passing. I take a lot of pride in my IQ in basketball. It's something I've developed and I look forward to it. Whatever I have to do to get this team to win every night and give it an advantage, I will do.”
Pierce was on the receiving end of some nifty passes from 6-foot-9 Antoine Walker during his days with the Celtics, but Garnett will bring the setup game to another level.
"The closest thing would probably be Antoine,” Pierce said. "I thought he was a great passer, but KG is a tremendous passer for a guy his size.”
-- The Enterprise