Kevin Garnett discounted everything. At his visitor’s locker following Game 7 against the Toronto Raptors, after his finest game in the playoffs and his lone double-double in the series, and long after his team had swept the Miami Heat in the regular season, none of that mattered. All that mattered was what hadn’t happened yet.
Even though teams that swept an opponent in the regular season are a dominant 25-0 against that team in the playoffs, that stat didn’t matter, not to anyone on the Nets. “It goes out the window,” Garnett said in Toronto, “with the rest of the season.”
Garnett has continued his career decline, missing nearly 30 games and averaging just 6.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per game in the regular season. Ditto for Paul Pierce, who posted a career-low 16.8 player efficiency rating. But the Heat recognize their presence.
“Those two have changed their game and can still be highly effective players,” Heat forward Shane Battier said of Garnett and Pierce. “Are they the first-team All-Stars they once were? No. Very few 36-plus guys are. But they’re crafty, and they present a lot of different matchup problems because of their shooting and skillset.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was a little more exasperated with the thought of facing those two again in the playoffs, and doesn’t buy into the “conjecture” that they’re over the hill.
“They don’t ever go away,” Spoelstra exhaled Tuesday morning, with the tone of someone talking about a termite infestation. “Seriously, look up the storylines and everything. The last time we played those two guys, when they were in the green in the playoffs. It was the same storylines! And If anybody’s forgotten, that series went seven.”
“We don’t get rope-a-doped into that conjecture,” Spoelstra added.
Tipoff for Game 1 is at 7 P.M. Tuesday night, and it’ll mark the first time the Heat play since April 28th. They were the only team to sweep their first-round best-of-seven series, beating the Charlotte Bobcats in four games.
“They’ve been sitting, they’ve been waiting,” Garnett said. “Let’s get it on.”