BOSTON – Celtics coach Brad Stevens provided Monday’s fun fact before Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett sat out his return to Boston on Monday on the second night of back-to-back games.
“I’m the same age as Kevin,” Stevens said.
He’s right — both are 39 — even though they took such different paths to the NBA. Garnett did so, of course, as a player, directly out of high school and into a 21-year pro career. Stevens did it in a more circuitous path as a coach, arriving in Boston as something of a prodigy after achieving great collegiate success at Butler.
“I played in gyms when he was playing on the court next to me,” Stevens said, recalling AAU tournaments when both were 17. “And I would sneak a peek while I sat on the bench for our team and watched his game. He’s special … he wasn’t highly touted when he walked in the game. He was when we all saw him. He was long, agile, athletic and a heck of a player and everybody knew him by then, even before the Internet.”
The way it goes …
Wolves forward Shabazz Muhammad played 16 minutes and scored eight points Monday after he played just 10 and was scoreless in Sunday’s 100-85 victory at Brooklyn.
“You watch the game? Do I need to comment on it?” Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell asked Monday. “That’s generally how it goes, doesn’t it? You play good, you get more minutes. You don’t play as well, you get less minutes. Everybody’s got a certain amount of rope. If you’re LeBron James, that rope is unlimited …Bazz last night, he just didn’t have it and it happens. He tried; it just wasn’t his night. I expect Bazz to bounce back and play better.”
Prince was a hit
Wolves veteran Tayshaun Prince played just nine games with the Celtics in between trades last season, but he impressed Stevens.
“He was a big reason for our turnaround even though he wasn’t around to enjoy the end of it,” Stevens said. “He led. He taught guys what he knew. He was a great leader, but he wasn’t loud and he didn’t try to overstep his bounds by any means. He just tried to do his job really well.”
• Celtics fans started loudly with the “We Want KG” chants late in the first quarter in what could be Garnett’s last visit to Boston as a player. He watched the game in uniform from the bench.
• With Garnett resting, centers Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns started next to each other. Mitchell said the two are playing so well, he has no choice but to play them together more.
“Whoever would have thought a Cardinal and a Wildcat would come together and like each other? Towns said, referring to his Kentucky and Dieng’s Louisville collegiate roots.