Sam Smith, By The Numbers, and KG Comes Up Big In The Playoffs And Finals

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I was reading this article by MSNBC expert Sam Smith - and I just have to shake my head and wonder where we're going when a journalist leans on the sensational versus the actual facts strictly for headlines (see Smith's article Garnett keeps coming up small in big moments).

Let me just break some things down for you throughout this year's playoffs to show you how off Smith really is on this particular topic:

Atlanta Game 5: In this swing game with both teams tied, KG goes for 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, and in the 4th quarter goes for 8 points resulting in a Celtics 110-85 win, being one win away from winning the series.

Atlanta Game 7: This was a blowout game and was over in the first half. KG goes for 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists.

Cleveland Game 1: When Pierce went 2 for 14 it was Garnett that set the tone for the first game and the series against Lebron's Cavs with 28 points and 8 rebounds. In the 4th quarter with the Celtics up by just one point it was Garnett who laid in 8 points in the 76-72 win while Pierce and Allen went for a combined 0 points.

Cleveland Game 5: With both teams up 2-2 this is a pivotal Game 5 for the Celtics to take the lead in the series and be one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. How big does Garnett come up? 26 points and 16 rebounds. In the 4th quarter Garnett goes for 6 points and 8 rebounds, 4 of which are offensive rebounds.

If Garnett doesn't have these two games (among the many others) do you think Boston even gets to a game 7 where Pierce can go off for 41 (and KG did have 4 points in the 4th quarter which totalled Allen's entire point total for the Game 7).

Detroit Game 3: With Detroit winning Game 2 taking away Boston's home court advantage and Boston not having won on the road yet, KG goes for 22 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists ensuring that Boston takes back the home court advantage in Boston's first road win of the playoffs.

Detroit Game 5: After Detroit wins Game 4 and can take the lead in the series with a win in Game 5 Garnett goes for 33 points and 7 rebounds to give Boston a 3-2 edge in the Eastern Conference Finals. Oh yeah - in the 4th quarter, he goes for 10 points including 2 clutch free throws to seal the game in the 106-102 win.

Detroit Game 6: In the closeout game of the series with Boston down by 8 points starting the 4th, KG goes for 8 points and 4 rebounds in the quarter in the decisive 89-81 win making Boston the Eastern Conference Final winners and earning them a trip to the NBA Finals.

If Garnett doesn't come up big in the Detroit series which he did - it means Boston never gets to the finals (where Ray Allen is playing some of his best ball).

NBA Finals Game 1: Not taking anything away from Pierce's heroics, but it was KG who led the Boston Celtics in both points and rebounds with a series starting 24 and 13 - 4 rebounds which were offensive.

NBA Finals Game 2: In the 102-108 win, Garnett goes for 6 crucial points of his 17 total in the 4th quarter. Leads team in rebounds with 14, 3 which are offensive.

NBA Finals Game 4: Coming back after a poor game KG goes for 16 and 11 in the 97-91 win. Trailing by 2 points in the 4th, Garnett comes up with 6 key points in the quarter helping the Celtics go up 3-1 on the Lakers, one win away from their 17th championship (and throughout the NBA finals so far, he's led his team in rebounds in every single game controlling the boards which has been a key aspect to winning the series).

Sure. Garnett has had to 2 games in the NBA finals where he's shot 36% and 28% in games 2 and 3, but in Game 1 he lead the team in scoring with 40% shooting and in game 4 shot 50%, so while Smith laments in his article about KG shooting a "woeful 35.4 percent" in these first four games, it doesn't nearly tell the whole story (and he's averaging a team best 20.5 points and 10.3 rebounds in the playoffs overall being Boston's most consistent player in the playoffs - and 17.4 points and 12.5 rebounds in the finals).

Put it all together and I just have to ask how can anyone in their right mind can say Kevin Garnett doesn't come up big when it matters.

Just look at the numbers in the context of the games and you'll clearly see you can't.