The Russian, The Big Ticket & The ‘Franchise’ — The Keys to the Nets-Heat Series from Here

LeBron James, Paul Pierce

3) Finding Kevin Garnett.


Just when we thought Garnett had accomplished just about everything there was to accomplish in this league, he was held scoreless for the first time in 139 career playoff games.

Oops. So what gives? Is Garnett in a self-described funk, or is he just too far down the road to come back?

When Jason Kidd restricted KG’s regular season minutes to 20.5 per game in the regular season, we thought it was to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Well, the playoffs are here, and Garnett has seen just 19.7 minutes per game in the nine games the Nets have played.

Garnett has struggled to adapt to his heavy minutes restriction, and his athletic ability and offensive touch has all but disappeared. In Game two, Garnett missed a critical wide-open hook shot that would’ve given the Nets a chance to steal the game in Miami.

Garnett’s role in this series might just be the most important factor for Brooklyn. With backup centers Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee struggling, the Nets will rely on Garnett to knock down open shots and snare offensive rebounds.

Defensively, Garnett has been above average. Eroded athleticism aside, his defensive awareness and communication haven’t left his brain. In nine playoff games, the Nets have the best DefRtg with Garnett on the floor.

Even with the offensive struggles, Garnett needs to see more playing time with the options behind him faltering. But he’s also got to hit those easy shots. – Max Weisberg