Celtics shut down Kevin Garnett
|03.31.09 at 1:14 pm ET|
Garnett missed 13 games with what the team called a right knee strain, during which time the Celtics went 7-6 and fell out of the race with Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. He returned on March 20 to help the Celtics win three straight, but played limited minutes, and was held out of their games with Atlanta and Oklahoma City.
On Sunday, Doc Rivers said it was likely Garnett would miss tomorrow’s game with Charlotte but might be able to go on Friday against the Hawks. Today’s development changes that, obviously, and for the time being it appears that the Celtics do not have a timetable for his return.
Garnett’s absence, coupled with that of Leon Powe, has left the Celtics with just three healthy big men–Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Mikki Moore–and with Powe not scheduled to return until the end of the regular season at the earliest, the C’s are in a bind as they prepare for the playoffs. Rookie Bill Walker has seen his minutes increase slightly and was on the floor in a smallish lineup against the Thunder that had him essentially playing the big forward spot.
Rivers noted a few weeks ago that the team’s priorities were getting healthy and staying in front of Orlando for the second seed, and definitely in that order. The team’s decision to shelve KG confirms that line of thinking.
With seven games left in the regular season the Celtics are locked into either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed (they could technically still overtake Cleveland but it’s highly doubtful), and they appear rather unconcerned about the possibility of falling behind the Magic.
With little or no incentive to grind out the rest of the regular season, the move makes sense, but at issue for Rivers and the team is figuring out roles and the rotation for the playoffs, something that has been impossible to sort through while the Celtics battle through injuries to four key players.