WALTHAM — An MRI revealed left ankle inflammation in Celtics center Kevin Garnett, and team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday that the team is going to allow Garnett to rest, perhaps for the next two weeks.
Ainge, speaking as the Celtics were practicing at the Sports Authority Training Center, said Garnett’s injury is not season-ending, but the organization wants to ensure he isn’t one-legged during the playoff run.
“Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest,” Ainge said. “Could he play tomorrow? Yeah, but we’re not playing him tomorrow. The time frame, I don’t know, it’s not an ankle sprain but there’s inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it’s not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I’ll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he’s really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway.”
The Celtics always have chosen their players’ health over winning games down the stretch, so the decision to rest Garnett is not surprising.
As for guard Courtney Lee, who sat out Saturday night’s 110-106 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis with a sprained left ankle, his prognosis is better. Lee did not practice Monday, but he could play Tuesday night in a key game at TD Garden against the Knicks.
Garnett missed two games last week with a strained left adductor muscle and flu-like symptoms but returned to action against the Hornets March 20. He apparently injured the ankle in that game but played two nights later against the Mavericks. After amassing 36 points and 18 rebounds in those two games, he was walking gingerly after the Dallas game. He missed Saturday night’s game.
Coach Doc Rivers addressed the media before Ainge gave the official report on Garnett and said he is OK with Garnett missing an extended period of time.
Rivers, too, said he was not concerned about it being a season-ending injury, and asked, “but can he miss four or five games? Yeah, that’s probably possible.
“We’re going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest.”
It’s likely Jeff Green would start in the place of Garnett, making the Celtics’ lineup extra small. They will depend D.J. White, Chris Wilcox, and Shavlik Randolph for depth up front.
“We just haven’t played well lately,” Rivers said. “We played well against Miami and lost. And then after that we really haven’t played that well. So we’ve just got to get it back, and having all these guys in and out doesn’t help obviously.
“But everyone goes through it. New York went through it on the road when they had all the injuries and kind of gathered themselves and now they’re winning even though they have injuries. I think we’re going to have to go through that same thing right now.”
The Celtics have two matchups with the Knicks over the next six days, games that could decide their playoff seeding or could be a preview of a first-round playoff meeting next month.
“Not only the New York Knicks, but the fact we’ve been on a losing streak should be plenty enough motivation to try to get on track at home,” forward Paul Pierce said. “The time is winding down right now looking forward to the playoffs, so the sense of urgency has really got to pick up game by game. Got to treat every game here on out like a playoff game.”
Pierce said two victories over the Knicks could really make a difference if they were to meet next month.
“Being this is a team you may face in the playoffs, you get a chance to beat them a couple of more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going to the playoffs,” he said. “So, that’s got to be a little extra motivation.
“They’ve been playing well all year long, been on top of the Atlantic Division, but right now it’s about heading to the playoffs, picking up the pace. The Knicks are a team we might have to face so we might to try to put a little bit of doubt on their mind to go out here and get a couple of wins.”