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Celtics notebook

A healthy dose of praise for Garnett

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / June 7, 2012
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Paul Pierce believes Kevin Garnett’s resurgence this season is related to his recovery from 2009 knee surgery.

“You’re finally seeing a healthy Kevin,’’ Pierce said after the Celtics’ 94-90 win over Miami in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. “He hasn’t been healthy the last couple of years.

“When you have a surgery of that magnitude, it’s tough on a big man. It looks like he has healthy legs. He’s playing long minutes and he’s giving everything he can.’’

Garnett underwent surgery for popliteus damage and bone spurs after being injured during the 2008-09 season.

“He has to have the best plus/minus in the playoffs,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He’s just amazing.

“He doesn’t have to score. Obviously, we need his scoring, that’s important. But he’s just, he’s our life. He really is. He just does so many things that don’t have numbers to it.

“A lot of it is with his voice. He’s, in a strange way, a calming effect on some of our guys, if you can ever call Kevin that.’’

Garnett said after his 26-point performance in Game 5: “I let a lot of offense come to me. I look at myself as a defensive player first.’’

Pietrus shines

Mickael Pietrus’s perimeter shooting and defending against LeBron James helped the Celtics overcome a 6-point deficit in the final quarter of Game 5.

“Clearly, one of the reasons we like him, offensively, he’s able to make shots,’’ Rivers said. “We remember him guarding Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron [James]. It’s not like he’s stopping LeBron. We’re denying him, but you’re not going to stop LeBron.’’

A turning point

Rivers reviewed how the Celtics had hoped to acquire Reggie Evans and David West before the season, then lost Jeff Green to a heart problem.

Just before the All-Star break, when the Celtics sustained a 119-104 loss at Oklahoma City, Rivers decided to move Garnett to center.

“We had a moment in Oklahoma City in the locker room after they blew us out,’’ Rivers said. “During the game I made comments to the coaches what we were going to do the [rest of] the season.

“From that point on, we really gathered ourselves. It took a while to get ready, but that was an important part of the season.

“Kevin at the ‘5’, Brandon [Bass] at the ‘4,’ we changed the way we played, and go from there.’’

Bosh surprising

Rivers said Miami’s Chris Bosh exceeded expectations in returning from an abdominal strain.

“We were very surprised how good he looked,’’ Rivers said. “He looked like he had been playing.’’

Bosh played only briefly in the second half, though.

“I didn’t really notice it until after the game,’’ Rivers said. “I really focused on us. After the game, one of the coaches brought it up. I’m sure there was a reason.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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