Flip and KG: November 2010
November 18, 2010
Flip Saunders has spent as much time as anyone watching Kevin Garnett play basketball.
Saunders coached the Timberwolves for the first 10 years of Garnett's career. So Saunders, now the coach of the Wizards, knew how much Garnett was hobbled last season as he recovered from knee surgery.
Saunders also has seen how much better Garnett has looked early this season.
``He looks a lot different,'' Saunders said before Garnett and the Celtics beat the Wizards, 114-83, last night at the Garden. ``He's not dragging the leg nearly as much. He's got his legs more, which has helped with his defensive ability to defend pick-and-rolls and his ability to knock down shots.''
Garnett has regained some of his explosiveness and the result has been much better work on the glass. The 16-year veteran came in averaging 10.4 rebounds after grabbing only 7.3 boards per game last season.
Garnett, who had 18 points and seven rebounds last night, also has been able to raise his defensive play to his customary high level.
``Garnett, when he's healthy, he's one of the best defensive forwards in the league, a team defender,'' Saunders said. ``When he's healthy, it makes them a much better defensive team. You have (Rajon) Rondo, who is maybe the best at his position, and Garnett's one of the best, and when you can put two guys out there that can be tops in the league at their respective position defensively, you're going to be a strong defensive team.''
At the other end, Saunders has noticed an improvement in Garnett's patented mid-range jumpers.
``The years I was in Minnesota, he went 10 years where he was either first or second in the league in shooting percentage from 15-to-19 feet,'' Saunders said. ``He knocked down every one of those shots. Last year, he didn't knock down as many. Usually he never misses one of those. I think he's getting that back. Now that he has his legs under him, he seems to be knocking that shot down with consistency again.''
As much as Garnett has returned to his pre-knee-surgery form, his game has evolved from his time with Saunders in Minnesota.
``In Minnesota, he did so much more,'' Saunders said. ``He doesn't have to do as much here. But he was much more dynamic back then. Even defensively, he was better because he didn't have as much wear and tear on his legs. He was going to go get you 15 rebounds every night.
``You could just chalk that up that he'd get 20 (points) and 15 and five assists. He doesn't have to do all that right now.''
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