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Kevin Garnett: ‘I can be better, and I will be’ 04.11.13 at 1:08 am ET
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In his first test since returning from a foot injury that cost him two weeks (he faced the Wizards on Sunday, but c’mon), Kevin Garnett didn’t live up to his own standards in a 101-93 loss to the Nets. If the Celtics have any hope in the playoffs, they need the Kevin Garnett that averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in 36.9 minutes last postseason, and he doesn’t seem to be available with a week left in the regular season.

“Absolutely, I can be better, and I will be,” said Garnett. “I can be better in every part of my game. It’s not just one decisive thing. Obviously, my timing is off a little bit, and I’ll get that.”

Garnett has precious little time to get that timing down. The Celtics have four games remaining in the regular season, and coach Doc Rivers might elect to rest his aging superstars with the No. 7 seed all but wrapped up. (“Whatever Doc wants me to do,” said KG.) Still, that doesn’t seem to worry Garnett all that much.

“I think we’re focusing too much on the playoffs that aren’t here yet,” said Garnett, whose 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes didn’t reflect his performance. “I think we need to focus and lock in on these games that we have left, and put the energy and the effort behind that. I think we’re stressing too much on the future, and the future’s not here yet. We need to take this one game at a time and then prepare for whatever’s after this.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs’ 04.10.13 at 8:59 pm ET
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To Doc Rivers, the key to playoff success will be outmaneuvering his opponent. Given the fact that he’s going to be facing either the Knicks or Pacers in the first round, he’s going to need as many options as possible.

Thus, with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green finding their rhythm heading into the playoffs, this gives Rivers and his staff another bullet in the holster.

“I like the ability to have that lineup and other lineups instead of just having this ‘small lineup’ with Jeff at the 4,” Rivers said. “We want to have three lineups – Jeff at the 2, Jeff at the 3, Jeff at the 4. Or if you want to call Paul the 2, I don’t care who you call the 2. I just think it gives us more versatility.

Wednesday against the Nets, Rivers featured the lineup (Pierce, Green, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley) that’s likely going to start the playoffs, of course barring another in an seemingly unending avalanche of injuries.

“This lineup is good,” Rivers said. “It’s important because it gives us a third lineup, because there’s one lineup we can’t go to, and that’s the very big lineup, like two 7-footers. We’re not going to be able to do that. We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs to play multiple styles.”

Before Wednesday at the Garden, the Celtics and Nets hadn’t met since Boston’s cakewalk on Christmas Day when the Celtics beat the Nets, 93-76. A game later, Avery Johnson was fired and PJ Carlesimo was promoted to head coach. The Nets are 31-18 since. Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett trade rumors return at 12:26 pm ET
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With the trade deadline long gone and the Celtics positioning themselves for another playoff run, just when you thought it was safe to table the discussion of trading veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears reminds everyone that their departure is a very real possibility in the near future.

These two names were certainly hot before the trade deadline. A lot of people were wondering if Garnett might go to the Clippers or Paul might get moved. If something’s going to happen with either one of them or both of them, the summer is a better time for that, because you’re not in a rush. There’s no real big deadline. You can think about it. Even draft night is a possibility.

Keep in mind, Pierce has one more year left on his deal. Pierce is still a valuable player, still a dynamic player. Keep an eye on a team like the Clippers. Not so much even for Garnett, but for Pierce, because if the Clippers stumble in the first or second round, I think that small forward position is something that they could use. They need maybe that No. 3 scorer or even that No. 2 scorer to kind of get them over the hump and be in the elite. He’s from L.A., so I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to send him to Minnesota. He’s going to send him somewhere that he would be happy with, and I’m sure Paul probably thinks he he could get an extension with a team like the Clippers.

But the problem with trading Garnett is — no matter where it is, even if it was Miami — he could potentially retire. He’s not a guy who wants a change, and he’s a guy who’s big on commitment. It would have to be a place where you’d have to have some stars that could convince him, but, to me, I think Pierce is probably the more likely guy if either of the two are to get moved in the offseason.

While speculation resumes about their future, Pierce and Garnett focus on preparing for the playoffs. The two spoke at length about developing consistency in a year full of inconsistencies. Here are the highlights.

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Kevin Garnett: ‘I know what I have in there – I know who’s willing to fight’ 04.08.13 at 12:02 am ET
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Kevin Garnett got his opportunity to shake off the rust Sunday night in his return to the Celtics lineup. (AP)

Kevin Garnett got his opportunity to shake off the rust Sunday night in his return to the Celtics lineup. (AP)

Kevin Garnett knew coach Doc Rivers and trainer Ed Lacerte would be watching his every move Sunday night.

Playing for the first time since inflammation and bone spurs in the left foot caused him to sit out eight games, Garnett paced himself and scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards, 107-96, at TD Garden.

“I felt okay,” Garnett said of playing for the first time since March 22 in Dallas. “I felt strong enough to play. I felt decent in my minutes and I picked and choosed when I was aggressive. I did the things I typically do. That was it. I told Ed that if I felt like I couldn’t go that I wouldn’t push myself but Doc has a lot of trust in what I’m doing. We were on the same page so so far so good.”

Rivers said the situation, as it turned out, was ideal for Garnett’s return – that is, 24 minutes in a low pressure environment.

“I thought he was really good, really good,” Rivers said. “And I thought his rhythm was good early. I was surprised how well he was running; I noticed that [Saturday] in practice. We did all fast-break stuff and I was just doing it for him, just so he could blow his lungs out, and I was surprised how well he was running. So that was good. And I don’t know what we played him – 24 minutes – that’s, I mean, you couldn’t script that. That was perfect. Actually I wanted 20, but 25 was what I didn’t want to go.”

Garnett was 6-of-9 from the field and was able to defend well, posting a plus-8 while on the court. While Paul Pierce was busy pointing out how important Garnett’s presence is to Boston’s postseason hopes, Garnett was focused instead on the way the rest of his team is playing.

“It doesn’t matter what line-up goes or who’s on the floor as long as we’re playing the right way,” Garnett said. “That’s all my concern is. Just making sure that we’re sharing the ball, playing as a team, giving up for each other, playing defensively, being one voice, one sound – those are the things that are most important.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Paul Pierce on Kevin Garnett: ‘We’re not going anywhere without Kevin’s presence’ 04.07.13 at 10:16 pm ET
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Paul Pierce knows the value of Kevin Garnett – or more to the point – a healthy Kevin Garnett.

Pierce said the Celtics are going nowhere without Garnett at full strength going into the playoffs. Garnett scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes in his first game back since injuring the ankle on March 22.

“I feel good because I know when we’re all out there and we’re on, we’re as tough as anybody in the East to beat, especially with Kevin’s presence,” Pierce said after Garnett scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes.

“We’re not going anywhere without Kevin’s presence, just being honest with you. He’s a big part of what we try to do out there on offense and defense. We play through him a lot. He anchors the defense. It’s going to be important for him in these last few of games to get his legs back and get going.”

Pierce said it’s important for the Celtics to be playing their best ball going into the playoffs, pointing specifically to Brandon Bass, who led Boston with 20 points Sunday night.

“Its good to be playing the best basketball at the right time, and right now is the right time going into the playoffs for some guys to get their confidence going and start having some big games,” Pierce said. “That’s going to be huge for us if he continues to play well going into the playoffs, and the great thing about it is he’s doing it all off of the hustle plays and off of ball movement. When you can do things like that without a play being called for you…that’s beautiful.

“It was good. Kevin healthy finally, im coming along…so were gonna need these next few games to really prepare for the upcoming playoffs no matter who we play, and right now is the time for us to start hitting our stride.”

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Return men: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett return as Celtics beat Wizards at 8:23 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett returned for the first time in nine games and helped lead the Celtics to a win over the Wizards. (AP)

Kevin Garnett returned for the first time in nine games and helped lead the Celtics to a win over the Wizards. (AP)

Paul Pierce scored 15 and Kevin Garnett added 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes as the Celtics beat the Wizards, 107-96, Sunday night at TD Garden. The Celtics were 3-5 in the eight games Garnett missed with inflammation and bone spurs in the left ankle.

Pierce missed only Friday’s game with a sore right ankle, as the Celtics recovered from Friday’s embarrassing 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers, a game that snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak.

Not only did the Celtics (40-37) get their two star regulars back from foot injuries, Boston took a step closer toward clinching the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference as they lead the Bucks by two games in the loss column with five games left to play.

Chris Wilcox had a big first half off the Boston bench, scoring eight points and helping the Celtics to a 56-52 halftime lead. Wilcox finished 5-of-6 from the field and led all Boston bench scorers with 13 points.

Leading the way was forward Brandon Bass with 20 points as the Celtics outscored the Wizards, 31-19, in the third quarter and built an 18-point lead.

Bass shot 9-of-12 from the field and played a team-high 36 minutes to lead the Celtics, who watched as the Wizards closed the lead down to 10 with three minutes remaining but could get no closer.

Boston is off Monday and Tuesday before finishing their four-game homestand on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. at TD Garden.

For more from Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce back at practice, Avery Bradley (collarbone) sits 04.06.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Just over 12 hours after a humbling loss to the Cavaliers at the Garden, the Celtics got a boost at practice in Waltham when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned from separate foot injuries.

Garnett has missed the last eight games due to inflammation from bone spurs in his left ankle. The Celtics have gone 3-5 in his absence as they look to lock up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

“I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new,” Garnett told reporters. “But I do want a rhythm. I don’t want to go into the postseason and have no rhythm. I want to be healthy. That’s my first priority.”

Garnett said when and how much he plays in the final six games will be decided after a discussion that includes himself, coach Doc Rivers and medical staff.

“I’m going to practice today and Doc and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future.”

Avery Bradley, however, did not take part, as he was still nursing soreness from taking an elbow to his left collarbone from Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game.

Rivers told reporters before Saturday’s practice that he anticipates Bradley would be available for Sunday’s game against Washington but would not predict anything further, adding, “you just never know.”

Pierce missed Friday’s game due to soreness and swelling in his right ankle, which first cropped up in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York, when he was spotted with a wrap on the ankle.

Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota due to the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce before returning on Wednesday in a win over Detroit. Pierce was held out of Friday’s game by Rivers on the advice of trainer Ed Lacerte.

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