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Kevin Garnett returns to practice, could play Sunday

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff  April 6, 2013 12:53 PM

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WALTHAM -- Celtics center Kevin Garnett returned to practice Saturday and could play Sunday against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. Garnett has missed the last eight games with inflammation in his left ankle.

"Obviously, rest is always a good thing for me," the 36-year-old Garnett said before joining his first full-contact practice in nearly two weeks. "I've been able to get multiple treatments a day on my foot. I'm getting better."

Garnett first tweaked his ankle March 20 at New Orleans.

"I have some issues with my foot," he said. "More from like the motion, if you’re pushing the gas pedal. It’s an issue. If it I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be out. But I am getting better. I’m going to practice and (Celtics coach) Doc (Rivers) and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future."

He added, "Everybody is dealing with their different ailments. I’m no different from that. Obviously as you get older, things tend to linger a little longer. I am getting stronger. I was able to heal up other things that was nagging me. But just my foot is an issue."

An issue that the Celtics have struggled with in Garnett's absence is defense, especially stopping opponents in the paint. But they haven't rushed him back because the team would rather have him healthy and rested for the postseason.

Rivers said, however, that it is important for Garnett to get some games in before the playoffs begin.

"It’s important to get him back on the floor, but if he’s not ready, he’s not ready," Rivers said. "I don’t know what the number of games is, everybody has their own thing with that, rhythm wise. Each individual player and I don’t what Kevin’s would be, but I do know he’s been out a while and the playoffs are soon.

"So the sooner he gets back on the floor, the better. And I would lean towards him, now, once he’s cleared health-wise, it’s probably better for him, even if he can’t play a lot of minutes, to play in games. Because no matter what we do in practice, practice will need duplicate a game. And it’s never going to be the same intensity."

Rivers did say that it takes time for Garnett to shake off the rust of sitting out.

"I’ve always said that," Rivers said. "Kevin’s a systematic player -- he’s like (Patrick) Ewing in a lot of ways, when I played with Patrick. Patrick was worse, if Patrick didn’t practice, he was going to be awful in the game. Kevin can not practice and still play. Patrick, it was amazing. Some guys and a lot of the great ones are that way, because they get in their routine. And once they get out of their routine, it takes them a little bit to get back into it."

Garnett said that his health comes first, but that getting into a rhythm is crucial for him.

"I want to come in and be able to contribute," he said. "I want to get as close to 100 percent as I can. I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new. But I do want a rhythm. And these last couple games, obviously we’re playing for something. We’re trying to get things done as we’re out here playing."

In other injury news, Celtics forward Paul Pierce (right ankle) did practice and could play Sunday. Avery Bradley (bruised left collarbone) did not practice but should play Sunday.

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