Celtics

Collins has deep respect for Garnett

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Collins has deep respect for Garnett

BOSTON Whenever Kevin Garnett decides to call it a career in the NBA, he will be remembered by many for many different reasons.

Sixers coach Doug Collins recalls learning about Garnett well before he became a perennial all-star and about as close to a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame as there is in the game today.

"I remember when I was in Detroit, I had just taken the job, and he was coming out of high school," Collins recalled. "Not a lot of people were allowed to watch him work out."

Collins, however, was one of the fortunate ones.

"I happened to know his agent and I got an interview with him at a hotel," Collins said.

Being a high schooler, Collins had no idea what to expect.

Needless to say, Collins came away even more impressed with Garnett the person as he was with the player.

That was Collins' first experience with seeing just how prepared Garnett is for all situations.

"The guy knew more about me than I knew about myself," Collins said. "This is a young guy who has incredible respect for the game and he's going to be an incredible player and he has been amazing."

Collins added, "He's a great talent; he's got an incredible motor. His focus, every practice, every shoot-around ... every game is important to him. He's become a terrific leader."

And even now during the sunset of his NBA career, Garnett's passion for the game is as strong as ever.

"I don't know if there's anybody in the NBA that loves to play more than he does," Collins said. "Or loves to compete more than he does."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

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