We are now two games into the postseason and Kevin Garnett has played 39 minutes. Alan Anderson is averaging as many minutes as Garnett and Mirza Teletovic has played four less minutes overall. I understand that Jason Kidd has been very stringent on playing Garnett in the 20-22 minute range in order to save him for the playoffs. But the playoffs are here and Garnett is still being restricted in how often he plays.
KG is no longer a 30-minute player anymore. He is 37 and now has a back problem. That we know. What we also know is that Garnett is the Nets best defender in the paint and does the most efficient job of any big on the team of spreading the floor and adhering to the team's "long-ball" philosophy. Garnett is still a capable shooter from the elbow and can put the ball down on the floor better than Mason Plumlee and more consistently than Andray Blatche.
In the first quarter of Tuesday's game two loss, Garnett played a shade under five minutes. In those five minutes, Garnett drained two jumpers, grabbed a rebound and got to the free throw line. Typically, Garnett comes out between the eight and six minute mark of the first quarter. Even though Garnett helped the Nets jump out to a seven point lead early on, Kidd elected to put in Plumlee. I understand Kidd's logic, but I also don't understand why he would take out a player that has found his shooting stroke early and ride that for a few more minutes.
Kidd opened the second quarter with Plumlee, who was ineffective for his second consecutive game, and then inserted the struggling Blatche at the 8:36 mark. As opposed to putting back in Garnett, who has been sitting for just about a quarter of game time, Kidd elected to give Blatche a chance to make an impact. Blatche played fine, but his suspect defense was on display once again and KG finally got back into the game for the last fourth of second quarter with the Nets now down by eight. All in all, Garnett played eight minutes and change in the first half, less than eight other Net players.
Garnett saw more time in the second half, a little more than 10 minutes, but that still didn't do the trick. Kidd is too cautious with Garnett's body. Garnett is the core of this team on the defensive end. His impact is felt on the floor, the Nets have a defense allows a little more than 100 points per 100 possessions when KG is on the floor, but north of 106 when he is off. He needs to see his minutes increase, plain and simple.
Last night, the Nets most used lineup was the starters, who played nine minutes together. In that time the Nets allowed 80 points per 100 possessions and scored 128 per 100 possessions, both great marks for a lineup that was used most often by a team. The Nets most used lineup with Garnett on the bench was Williams/Anderson/Johnson/Teletovic/Plumlee. They scored 62 points per 100 possessions and allowed 93 per 100. Not only does the defense drop off when Garnett has been on the bench in Toronto, but the offense as well. Garnett's mid-range jumper has stimulated the Nets offense.
Kidd has the right intentions by sitting Garnett as often as he does, but with no back-to-backs in the postseason and with the stakes as high as they are, it is imperative for Garnett to see minutes in the mid-20's and in some cases the 30's. With Garnett seeing more minutes, the Nets can play a more stable brand of basketball and be less dependent on their role players who haven't played all that well thus far.