KG isn’t himself. Doc has said it will take a while for KG to get back to 100%… whatever 100% is now. I do know I don’t like what I see in the meantime. Watching KG struggle out there with Al Harrington on both ends of the floor just hits me in the pit of my stomach. I wonder if his lost step will ever come back.
For the record, I still don’t think last year’s knee problem is lingering. I think this is a combination of other things. I look at that tape job going up the back of his leg and it looks like they’re trying to keep his calf loose. We know earlier in the year there was talk about his shin. And when you’ve got 40,000 minutes on those legs, it’s hard to come back from an extended absence without something else going wrong.
And as Sean pointed out below, even the Celtics’ opponents are in shock over the demise of one of the game’s most venerated superstars. From our Knicks blog, Posting and Toasting:
I get the feeling that the major theme of today’s game for anybody not emotionally invested in the Knicks was the demise of Kevin Garnett. I couldn’t give half a sh— about Garnett’s health, but even I noticed KG’s trouble moving. Particularly late in the game, Al Harrington repeatedly beat Garnett off the dribble, which defies logic and the sanctity of the game. His shots, too, were consistently off the mark until he hit a pair of his signature 18-footers (including the winner) down the stretch.
It speaks volumes about the way he played for preceding 4 quarters and overtime period that, after nailing the game-winner with characteristic ice water in his veins, everyone’s still wondering whether Kevin Garnett will ever get back to being himself. Over at Celtics Blog, they indulge in the blame game for just a minute. Is it Rondo? Rasheed? Doc Rivers’ coaching? Kevin Garnett? Or maybe just Father Time?
That last one—Father Time—might be closest to the truth. In a way, Garnett’s always been a microcosm of this team’s heartbeat as a whole. When they were winning, he was the linchpin, imploring the younger players to work harder and spurring the veterans to give 110% just like him. The Celtics WORKED because of Garnett, and they were one of the toughest teams in the league. But by the same token, they also had the talent to separate themselves naturally from all but a handful of teams.
Now? Not so much. The team still seems to be working hard, but when you’ve seen as much mileage as Garnett, there’s only so much you have left in the tank. It’s a problem for KG, but it’s also the same thing plaguing Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace, and Paul Pierce. The Celtics, on paper, should beat the crap out of a team like the Knicks. But then, on paper, we still think of these guys as a group that naturally outworks people, and so far, that’s not happening.
It’s a curse and a compliment, really: because we all remember how great he was, Garnett’s game-winner yesterday is obscured by the jarring failures we saw earlier in the day. No matter how many wide-open 18-footers you hit, it’s hard to wash away the memories of someone like Al Harrington beating you like a drum. But like it or not, that’s what happened. Garnett, 2009, is a step slow. And so are the Celtics?