Celtics

Garnett is back and the Celtics aren't going anywhere

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Garnett is back and the Celtics aren't going anywhere

And just like that, Kevin Garnett is back.

The sweat. The screams. The chest-bumping and trash-talking. The glasses. The glare. The energy that gets you so hyped its like walking around shirtless in a thunderstorm, waving a metal bat and daring the lightning to come get some.

The ridiculous analogies.

It's all back.

Kevin Garnett is back.

For three more years!

Maybe. But at the very least: one more year! And after a few weeks spent wondering if we'd ever see him again, one is enough. What more could we ask for?

When he arrived five years ago, no one imagined it would play out like this. Back then, KG was foreign to us. He was barely even real. He was one of the biggest superstars in the NBA for a generation of fans, one of the coolest athletes in the world and guys like that didn't come to Boston. These days, Garnett not only plays for the Celtics, but he is a Celtic.

Twenty years from now, when people talk about KG, which team will they think of?

Which Garnett will they think of first: The kid who spent 12 years toiling in Minnesota, or the man who spent six, seven or maybe even eight years battling LeBron, Kobe, Dirk, Duncan and Dwight in the NBA's version of Game of Thrones?

I'm sure there are some who will still say Minny; who will always remember KG as that young, flashy, fierce but playful kid they grew up with. But I doubt they'll be the majority.

Kevin Garnett is a Celtic and I mean that in the most historic sense.

I mean that at this point, No. 5 belongs in the rafters.

He saved the Celtics five years ago. He took them from a middle of the road team which they were even after the Ray Allen trade and made them contenders. He brought basketball back to Boston. He brought the Celtics back from the dead.

On Saturday, he extended their life for at least one, but potentially three more years.

From now until July 11, youll hear the Celtics mentioned in conjunction with an endless list of free agents: Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Ray Allen, Greg Stiemsma, OJ Mayo, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Richard Dumas, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, Gheorghe Muresan, Sonny Weems, Michael Beasley, JR Rider.

But the truth is: Regardless of what happens with the list, it will be OK. Thanks to the return of Kevin Garnett his skills, leadership and salary and assuming that Danny Ainge doesn't somehow suddenly lose his mind, the Celtics have the foundation and flexibility to keep up with the James's. They're still contenders. The three-year plan is going strong at six.

We may never know exactly how close we came to losing that, how close he really was to walking away, but at this point it barely matters.

KG is back.

And the Celtics aren't going anywhere.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE