Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/24/13
It is sort of amazing, given Kevin Garnett‘s reputation for being a bit handsy on defense, that he only fouled out of one game all season and was whistled for at least five personal fouls just five times. In 68 games this season, Garnett was called for just 154 fouls, or an average of less than 2.3 fouls per game. Think about that, Celtics fans, next time you start to whine about the leeway the referees give LeBron James. Yet the Celtics now head into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series against the Knicks having been forced to play without Garnett for long stretches due to his persistent foul trouble. In each of the first two games, Garnett finished with five fouls, and the Knicks’ ability to keep him in foul trouble has been a key in their 2-0 lead as the series heads to Boston. Paul Pierce is the beloved captain and Jeff Green is the X-factor, but Garnett is the most important pierce for the Celtics. Any time he is off the court, or forced to play with less aggressiveness on either end of the floor, benefits Boston’s opponent. Although Garnett ended both games with the same number of fouls, the issue haunted the Celtics in different ways each time. Celtics coach Doc Rivers sent Garnett to the bench for three crucial minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 1, causing the Celtics to become disjointed at the worst possible time in a close loss. Foul trouble hit Garnett much earlier in Game 2, when he picked up two early personals and took his first seat at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter, well ahead of schedule. The Celtics’ deficit grew from three points to six points with Garnett on the bench — not a devastating number, but still six points the Celtics would have liked to have back in their putrid second half. The Celtics’ struggles without Garnett are nothing new. This sticks to a trend the team has had since his arrival in 2007, most noticeably in the 2008-09 season, when a season-ending knee injury revealed just how crucial he had become. This season, the Celtics gave up 8.4 fewer points per 100 possessions with Garnett on the floor. In case the principle of defensive efficiency rating does not immediately click with you, suffice to say the Celtics’ defense is otherworldly when Garnett is on the court and sieve-like when he is off it. In the absence of Garnett’s sustained defensive dominance, Rivers’ options are limited. Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph got token playing time in Game 2, but the Celtics seem ready to proceed with only Garnett, as well as the surprisingly stout Brandon Bass, as their defensive backbone in the frontcourt. The more adjustments the Celtics try to make, the more the Knicks will push the issue, since nothing is as tempting as a desperate opponent. The only saving grace for the Celtics might be that, through two games, Garnett has not looked completely comfortable. He did not play at all in the final week of the regular season, so his rhythm and timing could be off. If so, that would actually be a good thing for the Celtics. The quickest way to remedy Garnett’s foul issues is to tighten the defense and make their rotations — that is, Garnett’s rotations — a half-step quicker, so those defensive fouls become offensive ones. If the Celtics hope to make this a series, they must look within their own ranks. Nobody new will walk through the door of the home locker room prior to Game 3 on Friday. The Celtics’ best hope is for someone familiar to walk through that door, just someone with slightly more bounce in his step. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame  or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yordano Ventura threatened Jose Bautista on Twitter

Giants GM confirms he has spoken with Jason Pierre-Paul

Sam Bradford on target to start season opener for Eagles

NFL official: Footballs known to have leaks 'right out of the box'

Bills suspend assistant coach for first six games of 2015

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Trent Richardson has 50-50 chance at making Raiders roster

Rex Ryan takes subtle jabs at Jets' upper management

Everett Golson responds to Paul Finebaum's criticism

Mark Sanchez says it ‘crazy’ to call Chip Kelly racist

Malcolm Butler daring Brady to throw his way in practice

Geno Smith confident worst is behind him and the Jets

Adrian Peterson, son featured in Vikings' 'Family Day' tweet

July's best and worst players in Major League Baseball

Why TCU and Baylor will again dominate the Big 12

WATCH: Dez Bryant throws punches at training camp

There's no need for Notre Dame to join a conference

WATCH: Benches clear during Royals-Blue Jays game

Jim Harbaugh gives Nicki Minaj a shoutout on Twitter

The Kardashian sisters still call Caitlyn Jenner 'Bruce'

Tennessee fan recreates Neyland Stadium in backyard

Lolo Jones: I could last at least a minute against Rousey

Bears have very strict rules for media during training camp

Jamaal Charles: I feel like I'm the LeBron James of football

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker