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Who has had success defending Kevin Garnett?

Kevin Garnett has shot 7-10 in the post when defended by Spencer Hawes.  For the series, Garnett is averaging 23.7 points per game on 63.3% shooting. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Kevin Garnett has shot 7-10 in the post when defended by Spencer Hawes. For the series, Garnett is averaging 23.7 points per game on 63.3% shooting. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

I went back and watched all of Kevin Garnett's field goal attempts so far this series to try and see which of our defenders, if any, have had even the slightest bit of success when defending the future hall of famer. So far for the series, Garnett is averaging 23.7 points per game on 63.3% from the field to go along with his 12 rebounds per game.

While Garnett's been on the court in the playoffs the Celtics have averaged a +18.9 overall rating. They've performed at a -37.18 overall rating when he's been off. The Celtics are +47 in the ~103 minutes Garnett has played in the series, -21 so far in the ~41 he has been on the bench. Clearly, slowing down Kevin Garnett is going to be a key if the Sixers want to have any chance to advance, and as of yet they haven't figured out a way to do that.

I concentrated on two play types, post-ups and jump shots, the latter of which have primarily come from Rajon Rondo pick and rolls. Sure, there have been attempts he's gotten outside of these two situations (a transition basket, a lob, the half-court three at the end of game 2, an offensive rebound, etc), but these have been few and far between. If you want to slow Kevin Garnett down, you're going to need to defend the pick and roll better and body him up in the post.

I focused on when he was defended by Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand, and Lavoy Allen. He's also had some attempts against other defenders, mainly Thaddeus Young and a couple against Evan Turner, but the vast majority of Garnett's damage has come against those three.

My hypothesis coming in was that:

  1. Spencer Hawes hasn't been effective at defending anything. He's been too slow recovering off pick and rolls and Garnett has had his way with him in the post.
  2. Elton Brand has had similar struggles recovering on the pick and roll.
  3. Lavoy Allen has been far and away our best post defender


Here's the first table, which is simply field goals made and attempted on post-up attempts, broken down by each defender.

Defender fgm fga
Spencer Hawes 7 10
Elton Brand 2 3
Lavoy Allen 2 7

Well, that's startling, and probably even worse than I expected. To say Garnett has had his way with Spencer Hawes in the post would be an understatement, and the three misses Garnett had were all decent looks. Garnett has simply been establishing very deep post position against Hawes and Hawes hasn't done anything to hold his ground. Lavoy Allen has really been by far the Sixers best option here, being the only one that's really actively forced Garnett out of good post position and being the only one that can realistically contest his shots.

Jump shots:

Here's a similar table, but with jump shots. Again, the vast majority of these have come off of pick and rolls with Lavoy Allen, where the big has been helping (perhaps too much) and been slow to recover.

Defender fgm fga
Spencer Hawes 7 11
Elton Brand 3 5
Lavoy Allen 3 4

Nobody has really had much success in this regard, but once again Spencer Hawes really sticks out, and it's been much worse than the numbers show. Hawes did nothing appreciably better during the 4 misses he forced than he did during Garnett's 7 makes. I'm honestly not sure 1 of the 11 jump shots attempted by Garnett when he was defended by Hawes have been contested.

Doug Collins all year has talked about keeping the opposing team in the yard, which in essence is saying he doesn't believe that teams will beat them by shooting contested long jump shots, and that the Sixers defensive philosophy focuses on taking away the three point shot and points in the paint. But this is different. These jump shots have by and large not been contested, and Kevin Garnett will continue to make a good percentage if he keeps getting quality looks like these.


Combining those two tables:

Defender fgm fga
Spencer Hawes 14 21
Elton Brand 5 8
Lavoy Allen 5 11

Lavoy Allen has been far and away our most effective defender against Kevin Garnett, and the numbers support this. It's also no surprise that the Sixers have outscored the Celtics by 25 points during the 70+ minutes Allen has been on the court and have been outscored by 51 during the 74 or so minutes he's been on the bench.

Of course, part of this is Lavoy's fault. He simply cannot pick up the touch reach-in fouls he picked up during game 3. That game got out of hand after two events happened, in my mind: 1) When Jrue Holiday sat that 8 minute stretch after coming out hot, and 2) When Lavoy Allen picked up his 3rd foul in the second quarter.

When the season started, I never would have thought I'd be saying this, but if the Sixers want to compete in tonight's game 4 matchup with the Celtics they need Lavoy Allen to give them 30 minutes of good defense on Kevin Garnett.

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