BOSTON (CBS) – Kevin Garnett is returning to where it all began Friday night, as the Boston Celtics pay a visit to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, Garnett is still a little bitter about his days in Minneapolis.
“It’s always special to come back to true fans and sort of your foundation. As far as that franchise, I have nothing positive to say,” Garnett said after the Celtics’ 94-82 win over the Utah Jazz Wednesday night.
KG On Going Back To Minnesota:
Garnett spent 12 seasons with the Wolves before being acquired by Boston in the summer of 2007 in a blockbuster six-player deal. The fifth overall pick in 1995, Garnett won MVP honors while with the Wolves in 2004-05 when he took the team to the Western Conference finals.
But that was the last time Garnett would make the playoffs until his arrival in Boston. Minnesota has since moved on, with just Wayne Ellington (selected with the Celtics draft pick in 2009) remaining from the Garnett blockbuster.
Now leading the charge for the Wolves; the explosive Kevin Love.
“I think Kevin Love is playing at a high level. I think he’s rejuvenated the city as far as basketball goes,” Garnett said of the 6-10 forward he’ll be defending Friday night.
Love is leading the NBA with 31.3 points per game in March, and is fresh off a 40-point, 19-rebound showing against the Bobcats Wednesday night. But he hasn’t fared well against the Celtics in his brief NBA career, averaging just 10.5 points in four games against Boston, his lowest total against any NBA opponent.
The same can be said for Garnett going against his former team though. KG has averaged just 12.4 points per game in five games against Minnesota, his worst average against an opponent.
However, a rejuvenated Garnett will lead the Celtics into his old stomping grounds. Since his move to the center position, Garnett has been more aggressive on offense and his numbers have shown. After having just two 20-point games in January, KG had four in February and so far seven in March. He’s scored 20+ points in each of the last two straight, and three of his last four.
“I think he’s taken that upon himself to be more aggressive,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said Wednesday night. “He’s not hesitating; he’s getting up a lot of shots. We’re getting him 18-20 shots on a consistent basis. We want him to be aggressive. He understands that that’s what we need from him if we’re going to be successful.”
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“He’s been playing like that a lot since the start of the second half of the season,” continued Pierce. “We’ve been going to him a lot more, making him a presence on the inside. And he’s doing it on both ends of the court. It really is inspiring to the teammates when he’s going like that on both ends of the court. We kind of feed off his energy.”
Garnett’s coach feels the same way.
“Kevin has been amazing. I was joking, but it’s true, if you had an All-Star vote at the center spot in the league right now he would be right up there,” Doc Rivers said of KG. “That’s what he’s been since the break, he’s a five and he’s playing terrific. Don’t tell him that.”
With Ray Allen nursing a sore ankle, although the C’s are hoping he returns to action Friday night after making the trip, KG says he is just doing what is asked.
“Ray is out right now, so I think everyone is sort of taking it upon themselves to be more aggressive with some of the scoring,” said Garnett, who is averaging 17 points per game since the All-Star break. “I’ve always said my priority is defense; that’s what I’m here for. But Doc has asked me to score more – look for my shot – so I’ve been doing just that.”