Kevin Garnett was pumped up in the Nets' Game 3 victory. Credit: Getty Images
With Brook Lopez out for the Nets, Kevin Garnett is the center — for about 20 minutes anyway.
And that has led to questions of whether the minutes limit being employed by head coach Jason Kidd is becoming a detriment to the team’s success.
“Obviously everybody wants to play, but I trust Jason’s decision-making,” Garnett said Tuesday. “I don’t ever want to be a distraction to any coach that I play for. And I’m not gonna start now. If anything I try to be positive, I try to be energetic, try to use my experience. I always say rest is good, but it’s what it is. Whatever decision Jason makes I’ll stand behind him 100 percent.”
Garnett has played 77 of the 192 minutes in the series. In the 40.1 percent of minutes he is on the court, the Nets are a plus-21 in points (164-143). Offensively, they have shot 50.8 percent while defensively they have allowed 42.8 percent from the field.
Garnett is not on the court, the numbers are drastic, especially on offense. The Nets are shooting 38.6 percent and allowing opponents to shoot 44.9 percent.
“I’m not resting him too much,” Kidd said Monday on a conference call. “And I don’t regret sitting him, because we have the luxury of doing that with Mason [Plumlee] and Dray [Blatche]. Whenever KG is on the floor we trust that he’s going to do the right thing and when we have a sub come in, the next guy is gonna step up.”
Garnett scored Brooklyn’s last points in Game 4 at the line with 4:58 remaining and that came after he assisted on Paul Pierce’s layup with 6:11, which gave the Nets a 77-73 lead. Unbeknownst to anyone it turned out to be Brooklyn’s last basket.
All of the questions about minutes comes after Garnett averaged a career-low 20.5 minutes per game in 54 regular season games.
The outside perception was that the rest plan was done to preserve Garnett for the playoffs, but four games into this series, the minute plan is on par with the regular season.
Garnett played over 20 minutes in 26 regular-season games and the Nets were 12-14.
Last year, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers limited Garnett’s minutes to 29.7 and then upped it to 35.3 in in the first-round loss to the Knicks. Rivers played Garnett above his average minutes 33 times during the regular season. Garnett appeared for 37 minutes, 39 minutes and 41 minutes in three elimination playoff games last year.
In other words, Rivers was thinking about the present, which is what Kidd might have to do if the Nets lose Wednesday.