Over the course of the past six weeks, Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics have experienced a sort of renaissance; with the team going from 15-17 and out of the playoffs to a solid fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. All of this is attributed to the hot pace Boston has been on since the all star break; winning 19 of their past 26 games. During this span, it has been the play of future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett that has sparked Boston's resurgence; so much so that the team is now being reconsidered as a legitimate threat in the NBA East this season.
The last 26 games have also signaled a change in position for Garnett for the remainder of the season; moving from the power forward position to center replacing the injured Jermaine O'Neal. The move has been a sort of wake-up call for the veteran; as his scoring has increased to 17.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest; leading the Celtics to the most wins since the all star break of any team in the league.
Garnett's play has harkened back to the dominance last witnessed in the championship season of 2008. Ironically, it was that Celtics' 2008 season that represented the single greatest team turnaround in league history; with Garnett changing the entire fortunes of the once moribund Boston franchise. Bringing an intensity and team approach that resembled Celtics players of days gone by, playing suffocating defense and a team-oriented offense that secured Boston 66 wins; 42 more than the season prior.
It would be Garnett's unselfish style of play in the 2008 season that would limit his statistical accomplishments and ultimately prevent him from winning the MVP award; with the honor being bestowed to Kobe Bryant. Instead, Garnett was acknowledged for his outstanding defensive performance and secure the defensive player of the year award. This season, with the team in need of more offense from the interior, Garnett would take a more aggressive approach and look more to score in the paint; leading to a scoring increase three points per game; all accomplished in the same 30 minutes per game time on the floor. Garnett's rebounding and defense would also improve; as the 6-11 superstar would take advantage of mismatches his quickness at the center position provided and dominate at both ends of the floor. Included in the resurgence for the Celtics and Garnett in particular is the 12 20-point games and the 10 double-double performances during the 26-game stretch. Each number exceeded the total number before the position change with his style of play resembling that of his defensive player of the year season of 2008.
Granted there are many worthy and deserving candidates for mot valuable player; with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant among the names most cited as deserving of this honor. Even though Garnett will likely come up short again for serious consideration for the league's highest individual honor; it is important to point out that the true definition of a most valuable player is one who most impacts his team's outcome. Again it will also be Garnett's comparitive statistics to the aforementioned players that will keep him out of serious MVP consideration. Without Garnett this season, there is no question in my mind that the Celtics would be finishing the remaining games of the regular season; as the franchise prepares for a difficult rebuilding process after missing the playoffs. Today the Celtics are poised to make a lot of noise in the playoffs and stand a legitimate chance to push both the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls to the limit in the playoffs. All of this is thanks to the "Big Ticket"; who once again lives up to his lofty billing.
Scott Duhaime is a passionate fan of the Boston Celtics and avid follower of the NBA for over 30 years; witnessing five of Boston's 17 championships. His professional career includes a solid foundation of analytics that contributes to a better appreciation of player and team contributions.
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