The many sides of Kevin Garnett were on display as the Celtics took a 101-91 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night at TD Garden.
Garnett showed compassion, giving a calming head rub to his daughter before an in-bounds pass; resiliency, bouncing up from a Udonis Haslem body slam to rip off 10 pushups; instincts of self-preservation as he elbowed Mario Chalmers, receiving a technical foul, after being fouled himself while holding onto a rebound; and pure basketball ability as he went for 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Doc Rivers said Garnett capitalized on the Heat’s switching defense.
“In the middle of Game 2 they went to switching,’’ Rivers said. “In my opinion, we never did anything about it. We didn’t take advantage of it. We kept stressing it but we never did. Watching film, we showed a lot of it and he had ample opportunity to do it - tonight he did it and it was terrific.’’
Both teams converted 38 field goals (the Heat had 77 attempts, one more than the Celtics) and both were 5 for 17 on 3-pointers. Both teams committed 24 personal fouls, the Celtics (20 for 26) had the edge at the foul line (the Heat were 10 for 20). And the Celtics had the rebounding lead, 44-32.
Rivers’s wish for bench improvement was granted.
Marquis Daniels (9 points) and Keyon Dooling (7 points) led the way as the Celtics’ reserves totaled 19 points - two fewer than their total in Games 1 and 2.
“We’ve had throughout - not just this series - we’ve gotten some spectacular minutes from our bench, Marquis in Atlanta,’’ Rivers said before the game. “There’s times when they’re not coming through and then the starters have to carry them. That’s why it’s a team game. I’m not really that concerned by it. I’d love our bench to give us a couple more minutes.’’
Rivers has been impressed with the Heat’s improved teamwork.
“They’re moving the ball, they’re trusting each other,’’ he said. “I think other guys are involved, Chalmers and Haslem have been terrific. I don’t think it’s surprising - LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade are terrific playmakers, not just scorers. They’re involving the other guys.
“It really comes from those two guys, though, they’ve trusted their teammates, they’re not taking hero shots, for the most part. They’re playing team basketball. That’s why Chalmers had the game he had [in Game 2].
“They’re playing with far more confidence. [In the past], it was pretty easy, basically the ball was in LeBron’s hands and Wade’s hands and they pretty much shot the ball. Now, they are running stuff to other guys and that makes it tough to guard them.’’