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Kevin Garnett -- suddenly a 3-point threat?BOSTON -- A collection of postgame news and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors Wednesday evening at TD Garden:
KG SHOWCASES THE THREE-BALL
Move over, Ray Allen. There's a new 3-point threat in town.
Kevin Garnett punctuated a brilliant first-half shooting performance by the Celtics by splashing a 3-pointer from the right wing just before intermission, sending Boston into the break up 22 en route to a 100-64 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
It was Garnett's first triple of the season and only his fifth with the Celtics. Sure, he was only 4-for-29 with Boston entering Wednesday's game, but he's now perfect on the season.
So how is his form? We turned to Boston's resident 3-point pros in Allen and Paul Pierce.
"He doesn't shoot a lot of them, but if you look at a lot of the shots he takes, his heel is very close to that 3-point line anyway," Allen said. "When he caught the ball, I was on the side and I was not going to let me get me the ball because I was thinking, 'Shoot, he's very capable.' And I've seen him work on that shot [in practice], so it's not like [he can't make it]. He looked very comfortable when he did it. It wasn't out of his range."
Added Pierce: “I tell him all the time he should shoot more 3s. I see him take 3s all the time in practice and he knocks them down consistently. A lot of his long-range 2-pointers are almost near the 3[-point line], so it’s only one step back. I know that if he started taking them, maybe he would start making more of them. He has that kind of range."
It's easy to forget, but Garnett utilized the shot more often during the early days of his career. He's creeping up on 600 career 3-point attempts, though he's connected on a mere 169-of-597 (28.3 percent). Back during the 2001-02 season, Garnett put up a career-high 116 attempts, making 37 of them (31.9 percent). He often closes his practice workouts by going around the arc and routinely splashes a noteworthy amount of his 3-point attempts.
Even so, Doc Rivers would prefer Garnett stick to the 19-footers. Asked about making the 3-pointer Wednesday, Rivers playfully quipped, "That's the worst thing that could have happened."
PAVLOVIC'S ROLE GROWING WITH CONFIDENCE
Rivers has often expressed frustration in being unable to get more out of reserve swingman Sasha Pavlovic during his time in Boston, but a recent spate of injuries, coupled with Marquis Daniels' inconsistency, have afforded Pavlovic another opportunity and he's making the most of it.
Pavlovic chipped in 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and an assist over 21:26 in Wednesday win. He missed his final five shots, but the key is he never stopped shooting, which is an encouraging sign from a player who appears to have leapfrogged Marquis Daniels on the depth chart.
"He’s a good, solid player that, for whatever reason, has been up and down with himself," Rivers said. "I think he’s more hard on himself than the coaches probably."
But Pavlovic is doing the little things lately and not getting bogged down when shots won't fall. He's playing solid defense, he's running the floor in transition and -- most importantly -- he's confidently knocking down perimeter shots (the second half Wednesday notwithstanding).
Rivers wants to see that on a consistent basis.
"With Sasha, you just never know," Rivers said. "You just want him to stay in the positive place that he’s playing in -- it’s a good place."
Pavlovic was in that same place when he served as a key bench cog alongside LeBron James and the Cavaliers, particularly during the 2006-07 season in which Cleveland advanced to the NBA Finals. In the summer following the 2008-09 season, Cleveland traded him with Ben Wallace, cash and a 2010 second-round draft pick (Dwayne Collins) to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal.
The Suns waived him that September and Pavlovic ended up in Minnesota, where his stats were career lows (3.7 points, 12.4 minutes per game in 71 appearances). Pavlovic's confidence never quite recovered as he bounced between the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks on 10-day contracts before being signed by swingman-craving Boston on March 3.
Pavlovic didn't exactly turn his fortunes around in 12 regular-season appearances for the Celtics and was inactive for much of the postseason. But on the heels of solid efforts against his former Cleveland team this week, he's hinted his confidence is starting to climb again.
And part of that confidence stems from being back in Boston, building off what he learned at the end of last season.
"I believe him when he says that, because he really wanted to come back here," Rivers said. "He really wanted to come back here because he had been here [last season] and you could tell that was a big thing in us getting him. There were other teams that wanted him, but he wanted us. He almost waited for us. I think there's a lot of truth to that."
LOOSE BALLS: NO COMEBACKS, NO PRACTICE
* Having nearly fumbled away a 22-point cushion Tuesday night in Cleveland, the Celtics weren't about to let the Raptors hang around on Wednesday night. Coming out of the intermission with the same 22-point lead, Rivers said Pierce was adamant about stomping on this opponent's throat.
"Paul made a great point to me. Before he came out, he said, ‘I’m going hard this first six minutes because I want to sit,’" relayed Rivers. "He said, ‘We’re going to try to get this lead up, so we can sit.’ And I told Kevin before the game that I wasn’t playing him much tonight, regardless of what the score was. So it kind of worked out good for us.”
* Coming off a back-to-back, the Celtics will not practice Thursday. They have another off-day Saturday, which would typically allow them an opportunity to (finally) squeeze in a session, but a noon tipoff against Memphis on Super Bowl Sunday likely will prevent that from happening.
"Saturday, we’ll have to make a decision because it’s an early game [on Sunday]," Rivers said. "They kill you with the time. It’d be great if Sunday was a night game -- obviously, I don’t think anyone would watch or come -- but it would be nice for us. Then you could actually have a pretty good practice. But the afternoon game takes that all away. That’s just the way the schedule is."