PHILADELPHIA — Kevin Garnett turns 36 on Saturday, a youthful age for any man, except for the rare ones with nearly 55,000 punishing minutes absorbed on an NBA floor.
Garnett knows all the ageist labels attached to the Boston Celtics. How they’re called The Over The Hill Gang, and the wisecracks about flashing AARP cards before they check into a game, and how each crucial postseason game raises questions about The Big Three’s last hurrah.
Aging legs, yes.
But far from finished.
Garnett displayed dominant proof in Boston’s Game 3 rout against the Philadelphia 76ers. He scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the Celtics snare a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers under-25 crew had no way to slow down Garnett.
He made 12 of 17 shots in Game 3 and is shooting 63 percent overall in the series.
Let others get nostalgic for the stretch run of Boston’s terrific trio. Garnett only cares about winning the next game, the next series and another championship to pair with the one The Big Three clinched in 2008.
“I’m focused on the playoffs,” Garnett said Thursday. “I haven’t given much thought to it. I’m definitely aware of it. We know what the possibilities are. But at this point, right now, it’s the playoffs.”
The chants should be more antagonistic in Game 4 Friday in Philadelphia.
Garnett will tune them out the way he’s zoned out the light attempts at defense the Sixers have thrown at him. Even at 35 (or 36), Garnett still is more mobile than Philadelphia’s frontcourt combo of Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand. Lavoy Allen’s foul troubles have limited his guarding Garnett.
“You have to do a better job early,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “You can’t let him get such deep position. You can’t let him run underneath the rim, turn and face the basket. You have to meet him at the free throw line.”
Pierce was slowed by an MCL injury in his left knee, until a gutsy 24-point, 12-rebound outing in Game 3. Allen scored only three points and has been secure enough in letting Garnett, Pierce and Rajon Rondo handle the scoring load that he turned down KG’s offer to get him more touches.