WALTHAM, Mass.- Boston’s Kevin Garnett is expected to miss at least a week with inflammation in his left ankle as the Celtics practice patience with their 36-year-old star.
Coach Doc Rivers, preparing his team for a playoff run, said on Monday he doesn’t think Garnett will be out for the long term.
“I don’t know what long term is,” Rivers said. “If you mean that he’s not going to play this year, no, I don’t worry about that. But can he miss four or five games? Yeah, that’s possible.”
Garnett sat out Saturday’s 110-106 loss at Memphis and will miss Tuesday’s home game against the New York Knicks, Rivers said.
Garnett’s absence may hurt the Celtics’ chances to move up from the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, but Rivers wants the veteran to be as healthy as possible when he returns.
“We’re going to err on the right side,” he said. “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’m going to say ‘two weeks rest’ … because at the end of the day, I want him right. I don’t want him half right.”
Guard Courtney Lee, who missed the game against the Grizzlies with a sprained left ankle, might return on Tuesday, Rivers said.
The health problems are the latest in a string of injuries that already have sidelined guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa and forward Jared Sullinger for the season. Barbosa was traded to the Washington Wizards after being hurt.
“Kevin went down and Courtney Lee going down, sometimes it kind of wears on you mentally because that’s pretty much how the season has gone for us,” Paul Pierce said. “Some way, somehow we’ve got to pick ourselves back up. It’s been kind of devastating with the injuries so far, but we’ve got to find a way to persevere and fight through it.”
Tuesday’s game could be a preview of a first-round playoff series, and Pierce thinks beating the Knicks on Tuesday or Sunday — or both — could send a message.
“You get a chance to beat them a couple of more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs and so that’s got to be a little extra motivation,” Pierce said.
The Knicks (42-26) have won their last four games after losing four in a row.
The Celtics (36-33) have dropped their last four, matching their second longest losing streak of the season.