BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett  is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.
Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.
‘I can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’re healthy but they’re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.
“Paul [Pierce ] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.’
[Click here  to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett’s return.]
Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring ‘ when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.
‘I think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.
“I just think it’s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’s most frustrating to is him because he’s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘Just play. It is what it is. It’s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’ ‘