Three Answers the C's Found in the Playoffs
BOSTON – Questions are always bound to follow a team’s exit from the NBA Playoffs. In some cases, those questions might be accompanied by answers.
Such is the case for the Boston Celtics, who are less than a week removed from their exit from the playoffs. There is no doubt that they’re still pondering what could have been with questions like: What could they have done better? What could they have changed? Did they meet expectations? Should they still be playing?
Those questions are running rampant, but we must also realize that some important questions were answered during the postseason. Here are three important things that we learned from the team’s six-game playoff stint.
KG Still Has It
What Kevin Garnett did during this season’s playoffs is what he does every single year. He emptied the tank.
Garnett’s season came to an end with some monster performances. He totaled five double-doubles in six playoff games, including three contests in which he grabbed at least 17 rebounds. Garnett also made half of his shot attempts in the series and 94.1 percent of his free throws. It doesn’t get much better than that.
There is no questioning the fact that Garnett outplayed every big man on New York’s roster. That includes Tyson Chandler, who was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year and who is six years younger than KG. Many will say that such is the case because Chandler was playing while injured. However, a quote from Doc Rivers indicated that Garnett was in the same boat. Said Rivers after Game 6, “Kevin limped into the playoffs…”
Despite “limping” into the postseason after his first full season as an NBA center, Garnett remained as a dominant force. That sentence indicates that KG still has plenty left in the tank.
Jeff Green Can Handle the Load
If you didn’t notice Jeff Green breaking out over the past two months, you must have been sleeping under a rock. Green was an elite scorer over the final 16 games of his season, dropping in 19.1 points per game on 51 percent shooting from both the field and 3-point range.
Green played fantastic basketball for the Celtics down the stretch of the regular season but no one knew if that would continue into the postseason. After all, the playoffs are all about taking away opposing players’ strengths. Green had never been a focal point of an opposing team’s playoff defense. He finally experienced what that feels like this postseason.
Green, along with Paul Pierce, were Boston’s go-to scorers. Green was the Celtics’ most elite offensive weapon with an average of 20.3 points per game. He also hit 45.5 percent of his 3-pointers, which was far and away the best rate on the team.
This was the first time Green had been a go-to option in the playoffs. He relished and excelled in that role all the way to the final buzzer, including 10 points during Boston’s furious fourth-quarter comeback in Game 6.
Green handled a hefty offensive load during the playoffs, and he handled it very well. That’s a great sign for the Celtics, who have him locked up for the foreseeable future.
Brandon Bass Can Be an Elite Defender
One guy who Carmelo Anthony doesn’t want to see anytime soon is Brandon Bass. Bass turned into a defensive force while becoming the primary defender on Anthony toward the end of the Celtics-Knicks series.
Doc Rivers chose to make that move during the second half of the series. Bass had defended Anthony at times during Games 1 through 3, but Green had served as the primary defender during those games. Rivers put the responsibility on Bass from that point on and it paid enormous dividends.
Anthony shot just 30.5 percent from the field while Bass harassed him during the final three games of the series. The NBA’s scoring champ, who shot a career-best 37.9 percent from downtown during the regular season, made just 5.6 percent of his 3s during those three games.
The Celtics watched Anthony put up 26.3 points per game during the final three contests but they were happy to do so. Those points were about as inefficient as they come, and that was due in large part to Bass’ defense.
So why was Bass so great? Well, it’s somewhat simple: he possesses great foot speed, great anticipation and great reactions. Anthony’s offense is built around his quick release off of the dribble. Bass’ speed and anticipation helped him to match Anthony’s every move. His reactions then kicked in to allow him to challenge every shot Anthony fired up.
Don’t judge Bass for his meager numbers during the Knicks series. Rivers asked him to show the world that he can be an incredible one-on-one defender, and that’s exactly what he did.