Kevin Garnett Grinding Through Pain As Leader of Celtics

Kevin Garnett Grinding Through Pain As Leader of Celtics Kevin Garnett is sick and tired of hearing buzz about his knee injury. He has been for a while now, in fact.

But rather than simply say it, KG decided to go a step further. On Sunday night, he proved that his actions spoke louder than his words. KG shut us up, and he did it the best way he knew how: on the floor.

The Celtics' veteran leader carried them to their 92-85 win over the Heat on Sunday, making 11 of his 12 attempts from the floor and finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds an assist and a steal. What's more, he played spectacular defense against Heat forwards Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem, sealing the deal with a shut-down effort in the fourth quarter to bury the Heat. Make it four straight wins for the Celtics on their current Eastern Conference kick, and there's no doubt who led the Celtics this time.

It's a pleasure to see Garnett have the breakout game he'd been waiting for for so long. It's his first time scoring more than 20 points in more than three weeks. At just under 35, it's the most minutes he's logged in his last 10 games. Garnett was the complete team player — defending, rebounding, scoring when necessary, picking the Celtics up and carrying them on his back to a tough victory.

We were rooting for him to come around. The questions about his knee — strained in February, operated upon in May, still not completely healthy now in November — had been piling up. Garnett was a head case — dealing with his own aging, with the team's losing, with the constant barrage of injury questions in the media. All he wanted was to shut up and play.

"They’re getting old," KG said earlier this week in response to yet another knee question. "OK? Y’all know what I’m dealing with here. I said [Sunday] that no one in this league at this point … is 100 percent. Hell, I get worked on even when I didn’t have surgery. It’s just rituals and stuff like that. I always get treatment before games. If you see Paul [Pierce] and [Rajon] Rondo, I think they get massages before games. My ritual is no different from that."

Garnett has a point. Basketball, played at the highest level by the world's best athletes, isn't a game of being 100 percent. It's a physical, brutal, taxing game, and injuries of all shapes and sizes happen all the time. It's not about avoiding getting hurt — it's about playing through the pain and taking care of business.

Forget about Garnett being 100 percent. This season, and perhaps for the rest of his career, it'll be a matter of him making the most of the 70 or 80 or 90 percent of his game that he has left. KG is a smart, intense, highly competitive player — he can find it within himself to carry the Celtics even when his physical gifts aren't at their best.

Garnett can create efficient, high-percentage shots for himself and his teammates. He can devote himself to playing airtight defense on every single possession. He can put the team first and find ways to win. That's why he's in Boston. It's not just about having two good knees.

KG is 33. He's not the same physically gifted athletic freak he was at 23. But he's adapted in other ways, and he's still got what it takes to be a leader in Boston.

He showed it on Sunday night. The Celtics' win over Miami wasn't the product of KG's physical prowess — it was the product of his will to win and his evolution as a basketball player. He may not be 100 percent, but he's going to give the Celtics every ounce of effort he can.

There will be more games like Sunday night. Garnett will give us plenty more performances like this one. He's too dedicated and too passionate not to.

TMZ logo

© 2019 NESN

NESN Shows

Partner of USATODAY Sports Digital Properties