Kevin Garnett joined Mut & Merloni to talk about building chemistry with the new players, how the Celtics are different without Kendrick Perkins and the team's reaction to being called "soft" by coach Doc Rivers at halftime of their game against the Knicks on Monday. Garnett acknowledged that they were not as physical without Perkins, but he thinks it will be different when Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal return.
"What people fail to realize is Perk was one of the parts of our team that made us really, really good. Made us tough," Garnett said. "We had built that chemistry and rapport with him. With Perk we had a style of play that worked for us. We're playing without the Big Fella and we're playing without JO. To say we're not playing with the same physical presence, you're right. We don't. Because Perk was a real physical presence. But we also have on our roster Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal. I really want to see us full throttle. I really want to see everybody on the roster, on the team, on the bench playing minutes, rotations. Delonte [West] got hurt, he was out. JO got hurt, he was out. JO came back, Shaq got hurt, he was out. It was just one thing after another. I want to see us full throttle. Yes, losing Perk did cost us some physicality but we have enough physical presence on this team that I think we can endure."
Garnett said part of the process for integrating Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green into the lineup takes place off the floor where the Celtics have a unique bond between them. "Off the floor we deal with each other," Garnett said. "When you see us we're probably going to be seven to eight guys together. We socialize together. We like each other. That is very rare in our league. Here we are a team and we're a team of brothers and we really live that."
Garnett was asked his reaction to Rivers' calling his team soft after falling behind the Knicks at halftime. He said it was part of Rivers' motivational tactics and it must have worked because the Celtics did get mad and eventually won the game. "That really wasn't cool at all but Doc has a of motivating us in more than one way. He knows how to push buttons," Garnett said. "He knows how to get guys to respond. He's very good at if he has something to say to you individually, that's what you love about him, he's very straight forward. I don't think there was a guy in the locker room that was feeling that. We told him after the game, 'Don't ever say nothing like that again.' We might square up or something. He was cool with that."
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