The National Basketball Association will reportedly not suspend Kevin Garnett for his altercation with New York Knicks forward Bill Walker following Sunday’s 106-104 loss for the Boston Celtics. Garnett could be seen placing his hand on Walker’s throat following the final buzzer of the game on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden.
As Garnett attempted a buzzer-beating shot in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime, Walker contested the shot. After the ball deflected off the rim and away to preserve a Knick victory, the New York Knick, who had previously played for Boston before being traded for Nate Robinson in 2010, exchanged words with the Celtic forward. Garnett then got in the face of Walker and placed his hand around the 24-year old’s neck before being separated by coaches and other players.
After the incident cleared, Walker reportedly sought out Garnett and patched up the incident.
The league obviously would like to have Garnett in uniform on Tuesday when the Celtics travel to the American Airlines Arena and South Beach, Miami, Florida to play the Miami Heat. A marquee matchup, the Celtics could have potentially entered a game against Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh without KG and Paul Pierce, who is still nursing an injury that kept him out of the Knicks game. Mickael Pietrus, recently signed after being waived by Phoenix, is expected to miss the next couple of games for Boston while getting acclimated to his new environment.
Miami is entering tonight’s game on the heels of an offensive explosion on opening night against Dallas. After watching the Mavericks raise their championship banner, which was won at the Heat’s expense, James put up 37 points as Miami scored 105 and won by 11. Wade added 26 of his own as the duo combined to go 22-for-40 from the field. Bosh, meanwhile, struggled in the frontcourt, scoring just four points on 2-for-9 shooting. James added 15 from the charity stripe.
The Heat had a banner year last year, winning 58 games and the Southeast division to to edge out Boston for the second seed in the Eastern Conference (behind only the 60-plus win team of Chicago). They lost just three games en route to the NBA Finals, including a decimation of both the Celtics and Bulls in the conference semifinals and conference championship rounds. It was an exorcism of sorts for James, who had been eliminated twice previously by Boston in the playoffs while playing for Cleveland, and for Wade, who had been eliminated in 2010 in the first round in five games.
But Miami fell short in their quest for the first of a string of championships promised by James in their elaborate preseason unveiling ceremony when they lost three in a row to the Dallas Mavericks to lose the NBA Finals in six games. Dirk Nowitzki led the way for Dallas in that series, leading the Mavs in scoring in all except for the clinching Game 6. Both Nowitzki and Jason Terry, who led Dallas in Game 6, scored over 20, but they did so by shooting less than 50 percent from the field. Udonis Haslem grabbed 14 rebounds in over 30 minutes off the bench for Miami. James had 10 boards to contribute with his double-double.
Boston will need to play better defense after their offense also went over the century mark in that loss to the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony nearly topped 40 for New York, and the defense sorely lacked Pierce’s presence in playing their lockdown style. Sasha Pavlovic stepped into the starting lineup in place of the Celtic captain, but he failed to score in his 15 minutes on the floor. Marquis Daniels, who saw the most action off the bench in the position filled by Pavlovic, shot just 2-for-8 for four points, and both players picked up ill-timed fouls, combining for nine. Despite that, Brandon Bass stepped up very nicely with a double-double of his own, including 20 points, and he could be a nice addition to a bruising frontcourt that already includes KG and Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal’s defensive prowess helped shut down Tyson Chandler, and he’ll look to do the same against Bosh, who, as mentioned before, struggled against Dallas.
For those tuning in, the game will be broadcast on TNT tonight at 8 PM, with Marv Albert on the call, being joined by Steve Kerr and former coach Mike Fratello. The always-illustriously dressed Craig Sager will hold down the sidelines. The radio call for the Boston Celtics will have their usual tandem of Sean Grande and former Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell on WEEI (93.7 FM and 850 AM). Opening tipoff is at 8 PM.