Garnett Gets A Chance To Play His Old Team In London
Monday, October 8th 2007, 10:32 am
By: News On 6
LONDON (AP) _ Kevin Garnett will face his past before he gets on with his future.
The 2004 MVP and 10-time All-Star, who left the Minnesota Timberwolves to join the Boston Celtics in a huge offseason trade, will play against his former team for the first time Wednesday in an NBA preseason game at the O2 Arena in London.
``I haven't really thought a lot about the past,'' Garnett said Monday. ``I'm enjoying this journey. ... That's the focus now.''
Garnett came to the Celtics in a 7-for-1 deal _ the NBA's biggest trade for one player. Ray Allen, another former All-Star, also joined Boston, making the team an early favorite to add to its record 16 NBA titles.
And all that is good news for Paul Pierce, the five-time All-Star who has been Boston's star player in recent years.
``I don't have to score as much this year,'' said Pierce, who led the Celtics with 25 points per game last season. ``I don't have to handle all the pressure every night.''
Garnett spent 12 years playing for the Timberwolves, leading the team to the Western Conference finals in 2004, but he'll face a team Wednesday that has very few familiar faces.
``A lot of players are gone now,'' Garnett said. ``It makes it a little more easy just knowing that a lot of people I did grow with are not there.''
Instead, the post-Garnett Timberwolves have several new faces.
``We're starting over with a young core,'' Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. ``We're going to compete in this league.''
The Timberwolves, however, will have to do that without last season's leading scorer.
``We're not going to be able to plug one guy in to cover all the things he was able to do,'' Wittman added. ``We're not asking anyone to come in and be KG.''
Both teams have already played one preseason game in Europe, and both won. The Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 89-85 on Saturday in Rome, and the Wolves beat Turkish team Efes Pilsen 84-81 in Istanbul.
Pierce, who scored a game-high 21 points against Toronto, thinks the trip to Europe is just the thing to help the team mesh ahead of the regular season, which starts Oct. 30.
``It seems like we've been teammates forever,'' Pierce said. ``I feel like it's all coming together.''
The Celtics open the regular season at home on Nov. 2 against the Washington Wizards. Minnesota hosts the Denver Nuggets the same night.
Wednesday's game is part of NBA Europe Live, which also includes the Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Late last month, the NHL opened its regular season at the O2 Arena. The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles split the home-and-home series in the first regular season games to be played in Europe.
On Oct. 28, the NFL will play a regular-season game at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium when the Miami Dolphins face the New York Giants.
Although the NBA game in London doesn't count toward the regular season, it still has some cache because of the Garnett influence.
``You've got to play it (the game against the Celtics) sometime,'' Wittman said. ``Might as well be now when it doesn't count.''
Ryan Gomes, one of the players going in the opposite direction in the Garnett deal, is taking all the frenzy in stride.
``It's part of the business. I guess I had to learn that first hand,'' the Timberwolves forward said. ``They (the Celtics) do have a great team and they're contending in the east.
``Hopefully it works out for both sides.''