Kevin Garnett was voted the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and upon learning this he called his teammates into a huddle.
“I told them that you could really pick anyone on this team,” he said. “We are a group.”
There is no question Garnett changed the Celtics into a defensive team with his abilities and constant chatter. But he insists he didn’t do it alone.
“James Posey is one of the best one-on-one defenders I’ve seen in a long time,” Garnett said. “Him and Tony Allen. (Rajon) Rondo is just great at setting the tone up the top. I’m just the one who happens to speak louder than the other guys.”
Garnett thanked a long list of people, from his first high school coach on up to Bill Russell.
“I thanked him when I met him for setting a tone in the league and exemplifying what it meant to play defense,” said Garnett. “Although he didn’t get it himself, you know from the start what that award was all about.”
Garnett got 90 of 124 first-place votes in the balloting and easily outdistanced Marcus Camby.
He is the first Celtic to win the honor.
“Dealing with so much history already in this organization, it’s a big achievement,” Garnett said. “It’s an individual award, but I won’t take credit. If this was tennis or golf I would, but this is a team.”
Celtics 96, Hawks 77: For the second consecutive game, the Celtics didn’t have a 20-point scorer. And for the second consecutive game, it didn’t matter.
The Celts survived their uneven offense with more stifling defense, going up 2-0 in the first-round playoff series with another easy win Wednesday night in Boston.
The Celtics pulled away in the third quarter and led by as many as 24. The most Atlanta has led by in the series is two.
Kevin Garnett led with 19 points, while Ray Allen had 15 and Paul Pierce 14.
“Obviously, we love the win, and our guys played with great effort throughout the game,” said coach Doc Rivers. “I didn’t think we played great all game, but our effort was great all game. So that’s a great start for us.”
• Manu Ginobili was the runaway winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award, but James Posey got three second-place votes and 10 thirds.
“I’m just doing my role as best I can,” Posey said. “It’s all about winning. My role doesn’t change. You do your job and follow the game plan.”
Said coach Doc Rivers, “I guess there’s not a lot of argument about (Ginobili winning), but Pose should be higher in that voting. But he doesn’t do things in a flashy way. It will hurt all of our guys when these awards come up because we are a role-playing basketball team. It tends to be out of sight, out of mind with guys like this. With Pose, you have to see him to appreciate him. I thought he was fantastic (Sunday) night. His help defense was almost the best that he’s done all year.”
• Game 1 of this series scored the highest local TV rating since Game 5 of the second round in 2002 against Detroit. Celtics-Hawks did a 7.3 on Comcast Sports New England, while the game six years ago did a 10.1.
• The Celts were surprised to learn Kevin Garnett hadn’t won the defensive player award before.
“I actually assumed he had won it before,” said Rivers. “I assumed he had won three or four of them.”
Quote To Note: “I just thought the fact that they hit us physically set us back.”—Atlanta coach Mike Woodson after the Game 2 loss.
Rotation: Point guard Rajon Rondo, Shooting guard Ray Allen, Small forward Paul Pierce, Power forward Kevin Garnett, Center Kendrick Perkins. Bench—Guard Eddie House, Forward James Posey, Guard Tony Allen, Guard Sam Cassell, Forward Leon Powe, Forward Brian Scalabrine, Forward Glen Davis, Forward P.J. Brown, Guard Gabe Pruitt.
• F Kevin Garnett made just 6 of 18 shots Wednesday. He is 14 for 37 in the series.
• G Eddie House looks to be the odd man out at the point. He got three minutes in garbage time Wednesday.
• C Kendrick Perkins’ eight points and nine rebounds don’t look all that impressive until you realize he got them in 23 minutes.
• G Sam Cassell had 10 points off the bench. Doc Rivers credited him with keeping the offense going off the bench.