WALTHAM, Mass. – Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins of the Boston Celtics skipped practice with injuries Wednesday, but Coach Doc Rivers said he expects both to play Friday night in Game 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Garnett has a mild strain in the middle of his right foot and Perkins has a hyperextended right knee. Although both were at the practice facility, neither practiced as the Celtics returned from a day off.

“If we had a game today, I don’t think (Garnett) could have played,” Rivers said. “We just have to wait.”

Boston won 104-86 in Cleveland on Monday night, tying the series at one game apiece and stealing home-court advantage from the Cavaliers, who finished the regular season with the NBA’s best record. The NBA gave the teams three days off before Game 3, which the teams complained about at first but is looking better now.

“Now it turns out the rest will be good for everybody,” Rivers said, noting that Cavaliers forward LeBron James has an elbow injury. “That’s the way it should be. You want both teams to be healthy. That makes it fair.”

Garnett wasn’t available for comment. Perkins, who said he would have played if there had been a game Wednesday night, was hurt during the pregame shootaround Monday, without any contact.

“I was running and I guess I was being clumsy,” he said.

Perkins played 31 minutes with the injury and scored 10 points with nine rebounds. Garnett apparently was injured with about 3½ minutes left; he stayed in until the Celtics emptied their bench with 41 seconds left.

Rivers said Garnett reported feeling better Wednesday than he did when he woke up Tuesday after the flight back from Cleveland. He came to practice to do a limited workout, but Rivers sent him away so he could rest.

“I think time’s on our side,” Rivers said. “I think he’ll be OK.”

Garnett, who will turn 34 this month, never lost more than a handful of games to injury in any season before sitting out 10 games in the middle of 2007-08 with an abdominal strain. He returned and showed no lingering effects as the Celtics won their NBA-record 17th championship.

Last year, Garnett missed most of the last two months of the regular season with strained ligaments and what the team said is an unrelated bone spur in his right knee. Though the Celtics hoped he would return for the playoffs, Rivers announced on the eve of the postseason that Garnett would not be back.

Rivers said Wednesday this was a different situation.

“I think he’ll play,” Rivers said, “but I can’t guarantee that right now.”


DANNY AINGE, the Boston general manager, said he regrets tossing a towel in the air to distract an opponent during a free-throw attempt.

Ainge told WEEI-AM in Boston he behaved unprofessionally during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Cleveland.

Ainge threw a towel in the air when Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson was at the line in the third quarter. Boston led by 23 points at the time and Hickson made the free throw.


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