Brooklyn Net center Kevin Garnett and Miami Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen, infamously, do not get along. The former Boston Celtics teammates won a title in 2008 and made it to the NBA Finals in 2010, but Garnett never forgave Allen for leaving as a free agent to join Miami in the summer of 2012, just months after the Heat ended Boston’s season in the Eastern Conference finals.
Garnett ignored Allen’s attempt at an embrace during a 2012 regular season game, and he and Paul Pierce kept up the silent treatment even after joining the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. When asked about his relationship, or lack thereof, with Garnett prior to Brooklyn’s pairing with Miami in the Eastern Conference semis, Allen pointed out that the two won’t be conversing anytime soon.
"No," Allen says when asked if he's talked with Garnett over the last two years.
Has he tried?
"No, no," he says.
The problem here is that Allen has been about as good as Garnett has been bad in this series. Some might say that Ray has been the Heat’s second-best player as Miami has raced out to two decisive wins in this second round series, totaling up 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in 54 combined minutes over the first two games.
Garnett, meanwhile, has become a millstone offensively – unable to contribute in the post or facing up for jumpers, missing eight of 10 shots so far. He’s rebounded well with 16 caroms spread out over the two games, but his inability to contribute on the other end is why KG had to watch from the bench as a frontcourt featuring Mirza Teletovic and Pierce could not secure a defensive rebound down the deciding 100-second stretch of the Nets’ Game 2 loss to Miami.
Now, if this seems a bit unfair to pick on Garnett while trumping up Allen’s two-game triumphs, it’s only because Garnett has been patently unfair to Ray Allen.
It’s true that choosing to join the team that just knocked you out of the playoff feels a bit unseemly, but Allen shouldn’t be getting the cold shoulder just because he saw what was coming to Boston (Rajon Rondo’s injury couldn’t have been predicted, but the Allen-less Celtics stumbled to a 41-40 record; as you’ll recall that one of Boston’s 2012-13 games was canceled after the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy) a year before Garnett and Pierce did.
Jumping as a free agent is different than being traded, and Garnett and Pierce were traded from the Celtics, but it should be noted that Kevin Garnett owns one of only three NBA no-trade clauses. He had to sign off on becoming a member of the Nets, waiving his no-trade clause along the way. Pierce’s potential trading objections were as tangible, but his working relationship with C’s general manager Danny Ainge was good enough that Pierce had enough clout to ask his boss not to deal him to a team he wasn’t keen on.
Garnett and Pierce can argue away the differences between the respective moves all they want, citing trades vs. free agency and the fact that the Heat were the team that downed Miami in 2012, but they basically made the same decision Allen did. And not only is Allen having the last laugh with his team up 2-0 after two impressive wins over Brooklyn, but he’s been a major contributor all along the way.
KG, to his credit, seems more than aware of his current station. From Stefan Bondy at the New York Daily News:
“I’m not happy with my play right now. I’m trying to get in a flow and a rhythm,” said Garnett, who is shooting 20% and averaging two points in the two games against Miami. “Try to bring something. It’s just frustrating. But I’ll grind through it.
“(I’ll) continue to work. Continue to find ways to be aggressive offensively. Continue to look for opportunities. Rebound the ball. And continue to talk and inspire.”
He is talking, but whatever inspiration he’s providing hasn’t been enough to push the Nets past the Heat in these first two games, even after taking all four contests against Miami during the regular season.
In spite of KG and Deron Williams’ struggles, this still probably has less to do with the Nets and more to do with how great the Heat are. Still, it probably has to doubly-irritate Garnett that Ray Allen has had such a significant hand in Miami’s sturdy 2-0 series lead.
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