The Wizards and Boston Celtics were about to head to their respective benches during a timeout, but Kevin Seraphin had the ball in his hands and didn’t want to simply roll it to the referees. He took a meaningless jumper to stay in rhythm — then Kevin Garnett came soaring to slap the ball away.
“He won’t let it go in,” Seraphin said laughing. “That was just funny. Every time. I told him, ‘Next time, I will just put it higher.’ He said, ‘Yep.’ “
Garnett didn’t have much success slowing down Seraphin during the actual game. Seraphin scored 19 points in his debut after missing the previous three weeks with a strained right calf.
Boston didn’t have much of a chance to scout and prepare for Seraphin, his ambidextrous jump hooks and spot up jumpers. Garnett was able to force Seraphin into throwing the ball away with 28.2 seconds remaining, but that was only after he decided to take the 6-foot-10 big man seriously in the end.
“He clearly has worked on his game,” Garnett said after the game, “and I was a bit shocked they were going to him.”
Garnett and the Celtics have had three days to rest their creaky, old legs — and by now are probably aware that Seraphin has scored in double digits in 17 consecutive games. So, Seraphin is expecting some different looks and a more animated and boisterous Garnett, who has a reputation for being quite emotional.
“Now, he will be ready, but I will be ready for him too, because he’s a good player,” Seraphin said. “I know that, I will probably get some trap and stuff like that, like double team. I know for sure, I score 19 points, [Garnett] won’t let me score 19 points again. For me, that’s a challenge, because I have to do it again. Now I just have to prepare myself to be ready for him like he will be ready for me.”
Seraphin’s teammates weren’t surprised to see him score so effortlessly against the Celtics, since he was arguably the best offensive weapon through the first few weeks of training camp. Martell Webster said he expects Seraphin to continue to “terrorize defenses” and create more open looks for his teammates.
“If you have a presence in the inside; if he’s commanding a double team, as an offense, you should be smiling,” Webster said. “I found myself on the receiving end of a couple of those open shots. Got to knock them down, plain and simple.”
Trevor Booker has been around Seraphin the longest and watched him develop into a tough cover over the past three seasons.
“He’s a big body. Has great footwork and a soft touch. Rare to find those,” Booker said. “Seems like every time he throws up that right hand hook, it goes in. He’s been doing it for a while. Now he’s added a left hand hook, he’s looking unstoppable. We definitely want to get the ball to him.
“For him to score that easily against Garnett,” he said. “I’m sure his confidence is high.”
Coach Randy Wittman has also watched Seraphin grow from a player unsure of himself, a new language and a new culture when he first arrived in Washington. Wittman has never let up on Seraphin and has marveled out the results, especially since the Wizards made the deal for Nene.
“Kevin, his first year played with zero confidence, couldn’t catch the ball, couldn’t dribble the ball, couldn’t shoot the ball because he didn’t have any confidence and now look at him,” Wittman said. “That’s strictly a lot just to do with confidence. He would do those things in practice. He did those same kinds of things – jump hook, 10-12 foot jump shots, niche touch, but in the game he had no fricking confidence and he looked like he was lost.”
Now Seraphin is calling for the ball, deliberate in his moves and determined to keep improving.
The performance against Boston and Garnett “just give me some more motivation because I’m somebody, I have a lot of ambition,” Seraphin said. “I have a lot of motivation to keep going. The last game was a good game. I have to keep going. I still have 80 game left. Now I have to prove I can stay consistent and play like that all the time.”
As for getting a more inspired Garnett, Seraphin smiled and said, “I love the challenge.”