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March 20, 2009

Welcome back, KG

It isn't often someone other than the President getting on an airplane at Hanscom Air Force Base is breaking news. But this was worthy.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett got on the plane with his teammates destined for San Antonio yesterday morning.

Watching Glen "Big Baby" Davis develop into a legitimate, 20-minute-plus role player in Garnett's absence was a pleasant surprise. Watching Leon Powe get back to where he was a year ago, becoming a real offensive and defensive threat off the bench, was long overdue. Watching Paul Pierce score at will, like he used to when guys named Marcus Banks, Jiri Welsch and Raef LaFrentz were on the floor with him brought back old memories. And watching Rajon Rondo finally shooting (and hitting) open jumpers was something that could bode well in May and June.

But let's be honest, those experiences had worn out their welcome. It's time to get back to brass tacks.

Enter Garnett.

The Celtics have done a decent job in his absence (7-6 record), not to mention the sprinkled in absences of Big Baby, Rondo, Powe and Ray Allen. Other than a few clunkers — losses to the Clippers (17-51 record), Bucks (31-39) and Bulls (32-37) — they've shown some moxie since Garnett sprained his knee in Utah on Feb. 19.

Two things, though, have been noticeably missing in his absence:

Defense and energy.

Home games haven't been the same without Garnett's obsessive-compulsive pre-game routine — bear hugs, fist bumps, slamming his head on the padding on the basket nearest the Celtics bench — that really does electrify the TD Banknorth Garden before the games start.

"That's probably the biggest thing, energy," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Kevin brings intensity every night, every practice ... We've missed that a little bit."

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