After the Celtics opener against the Wizards, KG was being interviewed and he was being praised for his defensive contributions. He stopped the interviewer and said: "Not me, we.
"Not me we, I was where I was supposed to be because someone else was where they were supposed to be. If we are going to get it done, it will be on the defensive end."
I loved that he stopped mid-sentence to bring his teammates into the conversation. This speaks volumes. First, KG acknowledges that he was able to do what he did in that game because of everyone working together.
One of the people who was where he was supposed to be was Perk. I have read a lot of comments about how Perk had a bad game and didn't do much. But if you focused on Perk in the game, you would see that he was making some big contributions that won't show up in the stat sheets but that make a huge difference in the outcome of the game.
When asked about the New Three, Larry Bird made a comment that the reason that the Big Three were so successful was because of the willingness to sacrifice individually for the good of the team.
And then there were sacrifices made within the group of Bird, McHale and Parish -- especially, according to Bird, from the latter.
“Robert gave up a lot to make it work,” said Bird. “He knew he had to give up shots to make it work, and he did without any problem. But that’s what happens when you put a successful team together.
“Our second unit really pushed us in practice,” Bird said. “They were good. (Bill) Walton, Scottie (Wedman) and Jerry (Sichting) were all top notch players. And all of them were willing to sacrifice to do what was best for the team.”
Perk may not be one of the stars on this team but his sacrifices are going to be a key to this team's wins. Rather than seeking his own stats, Perk works on defense to allow his teammates to get shots and rebounds. In the Wizards game, Perk cleared out the lane and that allowed KG to go in for the rebounds. On offense, Perk sets the picks to allow his teammates to get better shots. He plays defense around the basket and makes players change their shots. Perk knows his role and does it very well. Because what he does isn't flashy and is mostly in the background, often his contributions are overlooked. But KG realizes how important Perk is to his game and has said so on several occasions.
Along with the sacrifices of the role players like Perk, it will take sacrifices from the three stars as well. One night Pierce may be the high scorer, one night Garnett might be the high scorer and one night Ray Allen might be the high scorer. All depending on matchups in any given game. But they will need to be willing to give up their own stats and allow the others to shine.
As for the second unit pushing in practice, I can see that happening with this group also. Powe and Big Baby and Posey are all tough players and will push the starters. It seems that Powe and Big Baby were going at it so hard in practice that Powe bloodied Big Baby's nose.
A seemingly innocuous workout today was spiced by a battle between Glen Davis and Leon Powe. The two were working in a drill after the regular session when Davis decided he’d taken too many hits from the latter. The rookie began yelling at Powe, who listened for a while then said he was willing to fight if that’s what Davis, nursing a bloody nose, wanted. “That means they don’t want to,” said Doc Rivers, who was speaking at the other end of the court. The matter was soon cooled, with Paul Pierce and others intervening. Interestingly, neither Rivers nor Danny Ainge saw it as a big deal, and, in truth, such things are not uncommon among competitive teammates during the course of a season. As the Celts prepared to fly to Toronto, Ainge laughed at the prospect of body slams at 30,000 feet. “No, none of that,” he said. “They’re fine already. It’s over.”
We, not me is going to be huge this season. As long as the players put team first and play for wins and not stats, we are going to be a dangerous team. The team motto, Ubuntu is a constant reminder that team must come first.
The other part of Garnett's statement is the realization that defense is going to be the difference. This team must play tough defense in order to be successful. Offense sells tickets but defense wins games and ultimately championships. The defense in the first game was impressive. If they can keep that up and build on it, things will be very good for this team. In the offseason, the team showed that they were taking defense seriously by bringing in defensive guru Tom Thibodeau. His teams are always at the top in every defensive category and hopefully that won't change with the Celtics. We have some very good defensive players in Rondo, KG, Perk, Posey, and Tony Allen. Defensive intensity is catchy and when they seek KG, Pierce and Allen diving for loose balls and defending, the rest of the team works harder on the defensive end also. It was so good to hear the announcers talking about the Celtics superb defense in the Wizards game. Hopefully we will see a lot more superb defense from this team and that they never forget that it is we, not me that will win games.