What Kevin Garnett’s return does for the Celtics
|01.16.11 at 3:28 pm ET|
The Celtics went through a hard practice Sunday specifically to allow Kevin Garnett to test his strained right calf muscle. While he went through the whole practice without a problem, the team will wait to see how he feels Monday before making a decision on whether he will play against the Orlando Magic that night.
“I think Kevin will go tomorrow,” Doc Rivers said. “We went to practice to see if he could go tomorrow. Meaning we’ll know that by tomorrow. If he feels good, he’ll go. If there’s anything [wrong] he will not go. I would probably put it back to-50-50.”
If Garnett is ready to return it would obviously be a huge lift for the Celtics. Not only because he is their best defensive player and rebounder, but also because it would move Glen Davis out of the starting lineup and back into his role as the team’s sixth man where they can take advantage of his versatility.
“It puts Glen back on the bench, which helps him and helps our bench,” Rivers said. “It just makes us better. Any time we get a player back it makes the bench better. It makes us more versatile because now Baby can go from four-to-five with ease coming off the bench. It’s far more difficult when he’s already a starter at one of those two positions.”
The Celtics have gone 6-3 since Davis replaced Garnett in the starting lineup, but they have benefited from a softer schedule with most of their games played at TD Garden. As a starter Davis has had his moments, but he has also struggled to replace what Garnett gives the Celtics offensively. (It would be unfair to ask him to replace Garnett defensively, since arguably no player in the league can do that.)
Davis has drifted further out on the perimeter and the results have not been positive. In his last five games, Davis has shot 33 times from 16-23 feet and made only eight. Outside of a 5-for-11 night against the Spurs, Davis is shooting just 29 percent from 16-23 feet since entering the starting lineup. Davis has been very successful scoring inside — he’s shooting a career-best 65 percent at the rim — but his outside shot seems to have abandoned him.
Davis’ return to the bench would also help the Celtics out with a difficult situation at center. With Jermaine O’Neal contemplating surgery and Kendrick Perkins still working through his rehab from offseason knee surgery, the Celtics are down to Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden at center.
Shaq missed practice Sunday after slipping on some ice. The Celtics said that he has a strained adductor muscle in his right leg, making him questionable for Monday’s game Erden has been hit-or-miss with some great games balanced out by some non-existent ones. Before Garnett got hurt, Davis played about 18 minutes a night at the five-spot, which would be important minutes as the team works’ through its depth issues.