|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.
|No NCAA Tourney Regrets for Perkins||at 8:00 am ET|
Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett are the only members of the Boston Celtics to go straight from high school to the NBA. Of their teammates who chose the NCAA, nearly all of them experienced March Madness.
Even though Perkins made an early jump to the pros, the 2003 Clifton J. Ozen High School graduate still gets caught up in the excitement of the NCAA Tournament.
‘It’s fun because I’ve been watching a lot of games,’ he said. ‘It’s been very interesting just watching all the buzzer beaters, teams getting upset.’
‘No,’ he said without hesitation. ‘I don’t think anything substitutes for being in the NBA. It’s like, I’ve never known what it’s like to be in college so I never have any regrets or anything like that.’
It’s easier for Perkins to have no regrets when he can place his world championship ring next to his high school diploma.
|A Friday return for Kevin Garnett?||03.29.09 at 7:08 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett was not in the lineup for the second straight game, and he’s probably out for Wednesday’s game against Charlotte, as well. “It depends on how he moves in practice,” said Doc Rivers who added that it was “likely” that Garnett would return Friday when the Celtics host Atlanta.
Rivers also said they haven’t discussed how his minutes would go when he does return, but that the coach was looking for, “better movement (and) less soreness,” from Garnett. “I go by his gait,” Rivers said. “It’s not hard, really. Just watch him run.”
|Garnett not in starting lineup||03.27.09 at 7:45 pm ET|
The Celtics took the floor against the Hawks Friday night without Kevin Garnett. The All-Star forward had played four games in his return in limited minutes, but he has experienced soreness in his knee and the Celtics elected to shut him down. Celtics GM Danny Ainge told weei.com’s Jeff Goodman earlier Friday that they would evaluate Garnett’s role for the rest of the regular season next week.
Glen Big Baby Davis started in Garnett’s spot.
|Garnett To Be Scaled Back? Decision Coming Next Week||at 3:07 pm ET|
Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge expects Kevin Garnett to play Friday night at Atlanta, but the forward’s status for the rest of the regular season will likely be determined early next week. “He wants to play, and he’s been playing well,” Ainge said. “But the question is what gives him the best chance to be 100 percent healthy by the postseason.”
Garnett missed nearly a month with a knee injury before returning to play between 15-20 minutes over the last four games. However, Ainge said that the team doctors will decide how to proceed when the Celtics return home this weekend.
“Monday or Tuesday we’ll sit down and evaluate what the process will be,” Ainge said. “I think he’s going to be fine. The question is what the best course is to take … We’ll make a determination next week and figure out what to do over the next couple of weeks … Obviously, we don’t want to wear him out. We’re going to watch his minutes and make sure he doesn’t play too much.”
|Walker happy to take a seat||03.23.09 at 11:23 pm ET|
‘I’m actually happy Ticket’s back,” he said before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers (RECAP HERE). “He gives our team that swagger again. We’re more aggressive on defense. You can just tell it’s a different team when he’s on the court.’
After bouncing between the bench and the NBA Development League, Walker received a rare window of opportunity for meaningful minutes on the Celtics. He had played a total of just 54 minutes all season before Garnett strained his knee on February 19. With the Celtics bench already hampered by injuries, Walker averaged 8.5 minutes per game in Garnett’s absence.
‘I learned that it’s more physical than it looks on TV out there,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to learn to rest your body and take care of your little aches because those games come back so quick. You’ve got to take care of the little things.’
While Walker’s numbers did not skyrocket ‘ his game-high was only eight points ‘ his perspective on the game did.
‘You can always get better, especially on defense,’ he said. ‘There are so many things that go with our defense that I don’t know everything. So watching tape and watching myself like, ‘Oh I’m a second late’ or, ‘I’m a step late.”
Walker is constantly learning, whether it is on the court or on the bench, so he does not mind taking it all in from the sidelines. He pay close attention to the players around him — ‘What do they do that’s effective?’ he asks himself ‘ and tries to incorporate their strengths into his own game. He doesn’t have to look much further than his own team to pick up some pointers.
‘Offensively you can take from just about anybody out there. (Rajon) Rondo, how he gets to the basket. Paul (Pierce), his footwork. Ray (Allen’s) shooting. Ticket’s post work. There’s a lot of stuff to watch out there,’ Walker said. ‘I watch Ray on defense. Ray’s got some great defense. People don’t really realize it but Ray’s always in the right position. Hands are where they’re supposed to be. He’s just a smart player.’
The Celtics basketball IQ has already rubbed off on Walker. He’ll take the opportunity to watch the Big Three play any day.
‘I think it’s very, very valuable because everybody is not playing on a team with three sure-fire Hall of Famers,’ he said. ‘It’s not like these guys are stuck up. They teach me things every day.’
|Notes and numbers: Third quarter||at 9:30 pm ET|
– KG watch: 9 minutes, 4 points, 1 rebound
– Leading scorer: Baron Davis (10 points)
– Leading rebounder: Kendrick Perkins (8 rebounds)
– Leading ball handler: Rajon Rondo and Baron Davis (3 assists)
– Points in the paint: Celtics 16 ‘ Clippers 10
– Fast break points: Celtics 6 ‘ Clippers 0
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