drza wrote:A few quick things, from analysis I've done in the past, to respond:
1) Garnett was pretty clearly the dramatically limiting factor for the Celtics' defense in that era. It wasn't so much a case of an excellent defensive unit that Garnett just happened to be the best defender on, it was more a case of a defense that ONLY worked at a high level with KG on the court and was pretty pedestrian without him. Yes, Thibs' system was strong and the defensive support KG had in Boston was way better than what he had in Minnesota (understatement). But it was clearly a case that the support allowed a transcendent defender to build a dominant unit, not a strong unit that he could "just" be the leader of.
One way to illustrate it pretty clearly is to look at the 5-man data for units involving Rondo, Ray Allen, Pierce, Big man, KG or Perk from 2008-11
This is illustrative because a) Thibs is the coach for the entire period, removing him as a variable; b) If at least 4 starters were on the floor at once, it was almost always a competitive situation against the best of the opposing team (e.g. starting the game or closing a half); and c) if the coaching and/or the other defensive pieces on the Celtics were playing a larger role than credited in the defense, it should show up here.
Celtics' offensive & defensive ratings 2008-2011, 5-man lineups with Rondo/Ray/Pierce and...:
KG and Perkins: 112.4 points scored/100 possessions, 97.3 points allowed per 100 possessions
No KG, Perkins: 109.5 points scored/100 possessions, 112.1 points allowed per 100 possessions
KG, no Perkins: 111.9 points scored/100 possessions, 99.3 points allowed per 100 possessions
(numbers via 82games.com)
It's a very, very clear effect. It wasn't the defensive support or coaching that led to that Celtics' dominant defense...it was Garnett playing defense at an all-time level that absolutely made that Celtics defense what it was.
2) The defense holding up in the playoffs...just something to consider. This was the relative Defensive rating of the Celtics against their postseason opponents for the 2008 playoffs (w/KG, main season under consideration), 2009 playoffs (w/o KG), 2010 playoffs (w/ clearly less than 100% KG):
2008 Hawks: -4.3
2008 Cavs: -3.7
2008 Pistons: -2
2008 Lakers: -9.1
2009 Bulls: -1.6
2009 Magic: -1.5
2010 Heat: -8.8
2010 Cavs: -8.2
2010 Magic: -8.8
2010 Lakers: -2.7
In '08, the season under consideration, the Celtics' defense was absolutely the dominant unit in the Finals, against the Lakers team that was clearly the best opponent. And the only times the Celtics' D ever approached that type of level in those seasons were in Garnett series.
3) You mentioned RAPM, when pointing out that Pierce was solid in '08 on defense, so I'd just point out that KG finished first in the NBA in defensive RAPM in each of 2007 (w/ Wolves), 2008 (by a lot, w/ Celtics) & 2009 (by a LOT, w/ Celtics in season he got hurt). Again, stepping back from the specific situations pointed out in the first two points, the catch-all defensive impact metric of the time clearly showed that Garnett was WAY the dominant defensive impact in the NBA during that time window as a whole, and was clearly way the defensive monster of 2008.
Garnett also finished #1 in the NBA in overall RAPM in 2008, suggesting he was the dominant impact player overall in the NBA that season. And in the playoffs, over 26 games Garnett's on/off +/- was +19.8, significantly ahead of second place among the main units. So, Garnett's impact in the 2008 season and postseason stands up in comparison to essentially any Celtics' great in any one season. Where you may or may not put him in the top-5 is clearly the prerogative of the voter, but reasonable analysis absolutely supports the concept of having Garnett anywhere among the greats of Celtics history on a single-season basis, including #1 if the voter is feeling froggy.
1. One of the major contributing factor to Garnett's big +/- numbers in Boston was his injuries. If you look at the games he played in, his on/off DRtg swing is in 4-6 range.
No KG, Perkins; is a way to combine the lineups when Garnett was off and also Garnett did not play entirely due to an injury.
If Garnett lineups are that impactful, why are the numbers not that great when he was present in a game but he was not on the floor?
I mean the way to interpret the numbers when Garnett did not play entirely is the Celtics not being so great defensively without him. But then there's other side of the coin with that info; why does that claim not look as great as in the on/off numbers in the games he played?
Also you miss the point. I did not say 2008 Garnett was not the reason of that defense. If the argument is 2008 Garnett, 32 yo version being superior to peak Bird, then that just doesn't make sense. Garnett's impact & output combination in 2008 does not match what Bird's combination in 1986.
1986 Celtics; +4.6 rORtg, -4.6 rDRtg in regular season and +8.3 rORtg, -4.8 rDRtg in playoffs
Add that Bird's higher play time and motor, also output volume, how is 2008 Garnett is better than 1986 Bird?
2. And why is that the only convincing series they played excusing that drop off in the 3 series before the finals? Or why the series following 2008 is a reason for 2008 Garnett? God I hate interpolation stuff to overlook bad things going in Garnett's (or any other players loved by analytics, even though I'm one myself) way?
-8.6 rDRtg in regular season
-4.3 rDRtg against the Hawks (-0.6 rORtg in reg. season, 16th)
-3.7 rDRtg against the Cavs (-1.5 rORtg in reg. season, 20th)
-2.0 rDRtg against the Pistons (+3.9 rORtg in reg. season, 6th)
-9.1 rDRtg against the Lakers (+5.5 rORtg in reg. season, 3rd)
There's only 1 series the Celtics played convincingly. 3 of 4 simply are not on the same level as the regular season level. Nah, not just historic regular season level, the first 3 series are straight good. Not elite/great, let alone historic.
I'm very curious how would you guys react if I say Duncan was still better than Garnett in 2008 and base it on their single series performances against the Lakers.
Garnett against the Lakers in 2008 playoffs; 18.2/13.0/3.0/1.7/1.0 and 2.7 tov on -5.6 rts, led -9.1 rDRtg defense
Duncan against the Lakers in 2008 playoffs; 22.4/17.4/4.8/1.2/2.0 and 2.4 tov on -6.1 rts, led -9.3 rDRtg defense
I'm not saying Duncan was better than Garnett in 2008. Duncan struggled too much against West and the Hornets to be better than Garnett in that season. Just giving you an example of cherrypicking with single series based arguments.
Let's give Garnett hella credit for that defense in the finals. But why should not we be criticizing him for the defensive struggles they had against below average defenses and those struggles leading to playing elimination games against such negative SRS teams?
Is there a reason to overlook those drop offs in 3 series?
3. I mean I keep giving credit to Garnett and his impact in 2008, even when I'm arguing against him. The reason why I'm arguing against him in here, Garnett's 2008 season does not stack up against Russell's and Bird's bests.
I am all eyes and ears if someone bothers to make a comparison why 2008 Garnett is better than 1986 Bird. All I'm seeing is how great 2008 Garnett was without making a comparison to 1986 Bird. As I mentioned every time, the reason I'm pointing out weak points of 2008 performance is those weak points are important in a comparison to peak Bird. I'm not saying let's forget about Garnett and leave him out of our top 5s, am I?