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Preview: Celtics vs. Pistons 01.20.10 at 10:27 am ET
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Kevin Garnett is close to coming back for the Celtics. He practiced Tuesday and might play Friday against the Blazers, although that seems a little optimistic considering how cautious everyone has been with his various leg injuries.

The question for Garnett and the Celtics is: Which KG will we see on the floor? The one at the beginning of the season was tentative and out of rhythm offensively. The KG we saw before the injury was one of the best shooting big men in the NBA and a strong rebounder. Even when he’s not at his best, Garnett remains an excellent passer and a terrific help-side defender, and the Celtics have been struggling with stagnant offense and sub-par defensive rotations.

It’s too much to ask Garnett for him to pick up right where we he left off, but he needs to be that player again at least by the All-Star break if the Celtics are going to have any time to get everything in place for the playoffs. Marquis Daniels is also tentatively scheduled to be back by that point and that would be the first time this season the Celtics would have their nine-man rotation fully upright and operational.

CELTICS (27-12, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.2

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.4 (Second)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.7 (10th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.7 (Third)

Pace: 91.7 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Marquis Daniels (wrist)

PISTONS (14-26, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 92.2

Points Allowed: 97.1

Differential: -4.9 (27th)

Offensive Efficiency: 103.6 (24th)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.9 (21st)

Pace: 88.5 (29th)

Likely Starters: Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Jonas Jerebko, Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace

Injuries: Will Bynum (ankle), Ben Gordon (questionable, strained groin), Tayshaun Prince (questionable, knee) Read the rest of this entry »

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KG at practice but C’s still have work to do 01.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  While the head coach and captain were very happy to see Kevin Garnett back at practice on Tuesday afternoon, they tempered their enthusiasm with a heavy dose of reality.

The Celtics have a lot of work to do, even when their defensive MVP returns to game action.

“He looked real fluid,” Paul Pierce said. “He got up and down the court, got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back whenver he comes back. We don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, later in the week or whenever. But it just good to have him out there, his presence. You feel it and you see it when he’s out on the court.

“We ain’t thinking about that but definitely we know we’re going to better when Kevin comes back, obviously. He makes a better team on both ends of the court. We have to take care of responsibilities while he’s out. If he’s going to play the next game or not, we still have to go out there and turn this thing around going into the All-Star break.”

Then there’s Doc Rivers’ attitude.

“When Kevin gets back, we still have to grow as a team,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it, with him out, our growth has been stunted. When he comes back, it’ll continue our growth. It’s not the answer yet. We still have to grow as a team.”

While Garnett looked terrific, his conditioning wasn’t. And that came as no surprise to Rivers, who reiterated time and time again, KG will NOT return to game action Wednesday in Detroit.

“He actually looked really good,” Rivers added. “He played well. His conditioning was awful. That’s why I stopped [practice] because he was going well. I didn’t want to take him to the next step yet. He’ll do some running [Wednesday]. We may do something Thursday, or not, and then Friday, we’ll see.”

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KG: ‘Felt good to be back with the guys’ at 3:06 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  For the first time since being sidelined by a hyperextended right knee, Kevin Garnett returned to full practice on Tuesday. He took part in session, running up and down the court without a noticeable limp.

“It felt good,” Garnett said. “It felt good to be back with the guys today.”

Head coach Doc Rivers said he will not allow Garnett to play on Wednesday night in Detroit when the team plays the Pistons but rather keep him on track for a Friday return when the Celtics host Portland.

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Sheed: League doesn’t like tough D on Dirk 01.18.10 at 11:52 pm ET
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Rasheed Wallace felt he had plenty to complain about Monday night during the Celtics' loss to the Mavericks. (AP)

Rasheed Wallace felt he had plenty to complain about Monday night during the Celtics' loss to the Mavericks. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki — with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the floor — had a great game. Rasheed Wallace thinks he had a whole lot of help from the officiating crew of Tony Brown, Dan Crawford and John Goble.

Wallace didn’t hold back in expressing his frustration following Monday night’s game about a crucial fourth personal foul called on him with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter and the Celtics holding on to a 63-60 lead.

With Wallace on the bench, Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks on a 15-5 run to close out the third quarter, on their way to a 99-90 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.

“You know, they don’t like no tough defense on him so of course I get a whole lot of bull[crap] calls but that’s how the story goes,” Wallace said, before adding, “I ain’t worried about it. We’ll see them again. Honestly, I can’t remember which one the fourth foul was, there were so many bogus [calls]. I ain’t worried about it. Like I said, we’ll see them again. We go down there in about a month or so. There’ll be retribution.”

Wallace and the Celtics will have their chance at payback on March 20 when the Celtics visit Dallas.

Wallace also said there was a double-standard when it came to fouls that weren’t called on Paul Pierce.

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Doc feels Starbury still has game at 10:05 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers recalled his last meeting with Stephon Marbury last spring after the Celtics were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Celtics and Marbury had a 37-game marriage, starting on Feb. 27, 2009. It ended after the 14th game of the playoffs and a Game 7 loss to Orlando.

“We wanted to move on,” Rivers said of the 32-year-old guard before Monday’s game. “I thought we had him for the right amount of time and if he came back he would have wanted to play more minutes, which I wouldn’t have blamed him for.

“I did not think he was done, no. I thought he still had a lot of basketball left in him,” Rivers added. “I thought someone would pick him up last summer but I don’t think the web broadcast helped his cause at all.”

Of course, that broadcast is the now infamous 24-hour homemade production from last July in his house where he rambled about various thoughts on his mind.

But now, Marbury is focused on heading to China to show he can still earn a paycheck playing the game he loves.

“I hope someone does pick him up and I think he’s going over there to prove he still can play,” Rivers said.

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Doc on Dirk: There’s never been a player like him at 8:28 pm ET
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Doc Rivers has seen plenty of great players in his time as a player and coach in the NBA.

But he says he’s never seen one like Dirk Nowitzki.

What makes the 7-foot big man so special is his ability to roam the court like a guard.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a player like Dirk, honestly,” Rivers said. “He’s a rare [player]. He’s literally an original. There’s been seven-footers who can shoot, there’s been seven-footers who can pass but there’s been none who can do all of them.”

[Listen to Rivers rave about Dirk]

Reggie Miller was in town Monday night, doing the TNT broadcast with Kevin McHale. And Rivers had the chance to chat with the NBA’s all-time leading three-point specialist.

“I was laughing with Reggie Miller,” Rivers said. “They’re running plays for Dirk that we run for Ray Allen and teams [used to] run for Reggie Miller. Bringing him off triple-screens. You just haven’t seen that. The next coming of that would be the kid in Oklahoma, [Kevin] Durant. They’re the only two guys like that.”

Rasheed Wallace picked a heckuva time to come back after a three-game hiatus with a sore left foot. He had the task of guarding Nowitzki.

“I don’t know if this is the perfect game for him to come back and face Dirk Nowitzki,” Rivers said. “That’s a tall order but that’s the order we have and he’s got to follow through.”

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Pierce plays, Sheed returns at 7:32 pm ET
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Doc Rivers announced before Monday’s tipoff that both Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace were cleared to play against the Mavericks.  Pierce banged his sore right knee into the leg of Shelden Williams during Sunday’s practice while Wallace missed the last three games with a sore left foot.

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