WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics center Kevin Garnett admitted he wasn't in a good rhythm in Friday's Game 4 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but coach Doc Rivers still wants him to be more aggressive with the ball in the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Garnett finished 3-of-12 shooting with 9 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's loss that evened the series at two games apiece, but that was a steep dropoff after starting the series by shooting 63.3 percent (31 of 49) and averaging 23.7 points over the first three games. In the two games that Boston has lost in the series, the 76ers have done a decent job bottling up Garnett.
Rivers pointed out that Garnett's touches didn't dip as much as his shots, but those touches need to translate to shots when the Celtics see Garnett as their biggest mismatch in this series.
"I think we counted nine times where he was trying to be a passer instead of a scorer. So we've got to get him back, mentally, to attacking," Rivers said. "They didn’t trap as much as you thought. We've just got to continue to force feed him and keep him aggressive. But we also have to get into our stuff quicker, like we did in the first half. Kevin didn’t touch the ball a lot, but we had an 18-point lead, so something was going well."
Garnett got tagged with a third-quarter technical foul, and he suggested Sunday that the game changed around that point.
"I wasn’t really in a rhythm to be honest, but for the most part, I thought we were playing fine as a team," Garnett said. "I thought ball movement was fluid and then the momentum shifted after they gave techs and all that different stuff happened. I felt like the flow just changed from there on."
Garnett was a quiet 1-for-3 for 2 points at halftime, and had turned the ball over four times. Even still, the Celtics were up 17 when Garnett got tagged with a technical for barking at referee Bill Kennedy while jogging back up the court with 9:46 to play in the third quarter.
Neither Garnett nor his teammates could cool off the 76ers, who erased their double-digit deficit and made some big shots down the stretch to emerge with the Game 4 victory. Garnett admitted the loss sticks with him.
"It stays with you for a minute," he said. "Every guy is different, but it stays with me for a little bit. I like to watch the game, I like to assess myself."
Garnett pointed to rebounding and not allowing second-chance points as key adjustments moving forward, but you have to think he'll also notice a need to be more aggressive on the offensive end. The 76ers have found success by putting Lavoy Allen on Garnett, but the just-turned-36 Garnett dismissed the idea of the game changing when the rookie is on the floor.
"All the big guys are playing physical and bumping," Garnett said. "You go through side-picks, it’s physical; I can’t tell one guy from the next. Spencer Hawes is being just as physical as the young kid (Allen). It’s all the same."
Celtics captain Paul Pierce knows the team needs an aggressive Garnett.
"Kevin does a good job of being so unselfish. Even when you go to him, he’s going to find other guys off flare screens or cutting to the basket," said Pierce. "That’s the beauty of Kevin -- when you get him the ball, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to take the shot. He loves to spread the ball around. But we want him to be aggressive."