Celtics

5 for No. 5: Ranking Kevin Garnett’s top Celtics moments as he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame

Garnett gave Celtics fans several moments to remember.

Kevin Garnett celebrated a title in Boston. David L. Ryan Globe staff

Kevin Garnett is set to join several greats in Springfield this weekend.

The Celtics legend will officially become a Hall of Famer on Saturday as part of the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Induction class. While Garnett spent the majority of his career in Minnesota and many basketball fans remember him as part of the Timberwolves, Garnett had plenty of memorable moments in his six seasons in Boston.

Let’s relive some of the best moments Garnett had with the Celtics.

Honorable mentions.

  • His introductory press conference: Just moments into his Celtics tenure, Garnett gave fans a moment to remember. Not long after the Celtics and Timberwolves agreed to the blockbuster trade to send Garnett to Boston, a press conference was held with Garnett being introduced, sitting alongside Paul Pierce and Ray Allen as the new “Big Three” was officially formed.
  • Game 4 comeback against the Lakers: Garnett wasn’t the star of the Celtics’ 24-point come from behind victory in Game 4 of the 2008 Finals against the Lakers. But no one really was, either. Pierce played stellar defense on Kobe Bryant. Allen made some key shots down the stretch. The bench gave them an offensive spark. Garnett shifted from power forward to center, anchoring a defense that allowed just 33 second-half points.
  • Buzzer-beater against the Knicks: During his time in Boston, Garnett usually wasn’t the one called upon to take the shot with the game on the line. Those responsibilities usually fell to Pierce or Allen. But Garnett got a chance in a game against the Knicks in 2009. With the game tied, Garnett set a screen for Pierce and found himself wide open roughly 20 feet from the basket. Garnett, whose mid-range game felt automatic at times, made the shot at the buzzer and sent the Knicks crowd home with a loss.
  • His role in “Uncut Gems”: OK, this technically didn’t happen during his run with the Celtics as the movie was released in 2019. But, Garnett plays a key role in the critically-acclaimed hit and the Celtics’ 2012 playoff series against the 76ers was one of the settings in the film. Garnett’s intense on-court persona translated well to the big screen, amplifying the movie and sharing memorable scenes with its star, Adam Sandler. (Spoiler alert: He was a hero in the movie, too).

Now lets recall the the five most memorable moments for the final player in Celtics history to wear No. 5.

5. Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.

In the midst of the 2011-12 season, it looked like the best days of the “Big 3” Celtics were past them. That appeared to especially be the case for Garnett, who averaged just 14.4 points per game in the season’s first half.

However, a midseason change to the center position helped reinvigorate Garnett. His points, rebounds, and assists averages all increased, helping the Celtics climb the Eastern Conference standings, earning them the fourth seed in the conference.

A six-game defeat of the Hawks and a seven-game takedown of the 76ers set the Celtics up for an Eastern Conference battle against the Heat, a series several experts predicted the Celtics to easily lose. With LeBron James and the Heat winning the first two games as expected, the Celtics turned around and made it a series, winning Games 3 and 4 in Boston, setting up an important Game 5.

Garnett showed up in that game, scoring a team-high 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting and grabbing 11 boards. While Pierce hit the dagger, Garnett was clearly the Celtics’ best player in the important win and gave an emotional interview after the game to let everyone know he still had it.

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“The competition. The nay-sayers. Those who talk too much,” Garnett said when asked what fuels him. “The people who don’t think a 35, 36-year-old can do what I do. I take a lot pride in my craft. I work really hard on my craft everyday. I’m a true professional.”

Unfortunately for Garnett, James had some of the best performances of his career in Game 6 and Game 7, and the Celtics’ age caught up to them as the Heat pulled away in the final minutes to advance to the NBA Finals.

4. Game 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

In his first season back from a knee injury, Garnett showed signs that he was no longer the MVP-caliber player he once was, a reason why the Celtics were the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference in the 2010 playoffs.

Following an easy five-game beating of the Heat, the Celtics advanced to the next round to play a 61-win Cavaliers team led by LeBron James, who was named the league’s MVP for a second straight season.

The teams split the first four games of the series, and in Game 5 the Celtics stunned the Cavaliers, defeating them by 32 in Cleveland.

With the series moving back to Boston for Game 6, the Celtics had a prime opportunity to knock out the Cavs. Garnett made his first five shots of the game, but with Pierce and Allen struggling from the field, the Celtics needed more.

So, Garnett gave them more. He scored eight points in the third to help extend the Celtics’ halftime lead from two points to nine. The Cavs cut the Celtics’ lead down to four tough with Garnett on the bench. Garnett changed the game again, helping the Celtics go on a 10-0 run, capped off with a Garnett dunk.

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Garnett finished with a team-high 22 points, leading the Celtics back to the conference finals for the second time in three seasons.

3. Game 5 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals.

Prior to his arrival in Boston, Garnett had made the conference finals just once in his career, in which his Timberwolves lost to the Lakers in 2004.

The 2008 season looked as good as any for Garnett to make the NBA Finals. In his first season in Boston, the Celtics won a league-best 66 games. However, they were challenged in the first two rounds, needing seven games to beat both the Hawks and Cavaliers.

The Eastern Conference Finals that year looked like it was going to be another grueling series for Boston. The Pistons had been the class of the conference for much of the previous five seasons and split the first four games of the series with the Celtics.

After the Celtics went down early in the second quarter, Garnett helped give them a halftime lead, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Garnett’s number was called on again in the fourth as he scored 10 of the team’s 22 points in the quarter.

The Celtics won Game 5 by four behind Garnett’s game-high 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting and hung on to win the series in Game 6.

2. Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

In the first five games of the 2008 NBA Finals, Garnett only scored 20-plus points in a game once and while the Celtics held a 3-2 series lead, the momentum was in danger of shifting toward the Lakers.

Like they did in Game 4, the Celtics put an end to that, and Garnett led the way. He scored 10 first-quarter points to help give the Celtics a quick lead. He helped do more damage in the second quarter.

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Checking back into the game with the Celtics holding a three-point lead, Garnett helped the Celtics go on a 26-6 run to close out the half, scoring seven points in the run.

His final points of the half was arguably the play of the game. Garnett received an entry pass from Pierce in the paint, and as he went up for a shot, Garnett was fouled by Lamar Odom, throwing the ball off the backboard and made the and-one.

Garnett and the Celtics only added to their lead in the second half as he finished the game with 26 points, leading us to his top moment…

1. “Anything’s possible!”

Did you think anything else would take the top spot?

As the euphoric celebration of the Celtics’ 17th title took place on the floor of the Garden, Garnett cherished his first title. Moments after celebrating with the team at center court, Garnett spoke with then-ABC reporter Michele Tafoya, who asked him how it sounds to be an NBA champion.

“Man, I’m so hyped right now,” Garnett started off before giving the saying that will live on for ages.

“Anything’s possible. Anything’s possibleeeeeeeee!”

In the emotional interview, shouted out those in his hometown of Chicago, his mother, and even the Timberwolves organization, among several others.

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