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John Schuhmann

Kevin Garnett (left), Paul Pierce and Ray Allen all played the role of spectator for Tuesday's game.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

All about being fresh for April and May for K.G., Celtics

Posted Oct 14 2009 5:57AM

NEWARK, N.J. -- There were no developments in the on-going Kevin Garnett Watch on Tuesday night, as the Celtics power forward was held out of his team's fourth preseason game, a 91-88 win over the Nets.

No, nothing is wrong with K.G. Celtics coach Doc Rivers just didn't want to play his stars two nights in a row, and Boston will take on the Toronto Raptors in Hartford on Wednesday. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce also got the night off against the Nets.

Since the opening day of training camp two weeks ago, the media and fans have closely scrutinized every step Garnett has taken with his surgically repaired right knee, as well as every word that he or Rivers has spoken about it. It's time to make our championship predictions, after all, and before we do so, we want to know how healthy and how mobile Garnett is going to be in April and May. There's no bigger question among the group of five or six title contenders as the season approaches.

The concern doesn't extend into the Celtics' locker room, however.

"It's not even a thought," said Allen. "We've practiced now for two weeks. Anyone of us, if we thought there was something wrong, we'd sit down."

Until Tuesday's game, Garnett hasn't taken a break since he arrived at the Celtics' practice facility in Waltham, Mass. a month ago. And an alley-oop throwdown in Monday's practice provided a glimpse of explosion from Garnett that had yet to be seen.

"You [kept a close eye on him] early, because you hadn't seen him play," Rivers said. "He was in a good two weeks before camp started. That helped us, because we were allowed to watch them play and get a gauge of where everybody was at, and more importantly, where Kevin was at. And that made us feel better, obviously, going into camp."

At this point, Rivers says that Garnett is "ready for the season" and a 30-35 minute workload per game. But there's no urgency with opening night in Cleveland exactly two weeks away. It's all about the long haul, and the most important part of the season isn't for another six months.

The Celtics believe that their additional depth will go a long way in keeping their veterans sharp through the April and May.

"You've got to have depth to withstand the 82-game season," Allen said, pointing out just how strong his team's reserves are. "Rasheed [Wallace] starts on every team in the NBA. He's coming off the bench. Marquis [Daniels] starts on any team in the NBA. And he's coming off the bench. And Glen Davis has proven that he's a starter in this league. So you're talking about eight guys that are starters on any team."

While Garnett at 100 percent for the full 82 games would certainly help the Celtics approach Wallace's expectations of a 72-10 season and earn the home-court edge against the Cavs and/or Magic in the postseason, Rivers is willing to accept a healthy and fresh team come April.

"At the end of the day, home court is what you want the most," he said. "And if you can't get that because you've had injuries or for whatever reason, then you want to be playing the best at the end of the year. And that's actually my focus every year."

The day off on Tuesday not only allowed Garnett to stay fresh, but it also provided Rivers an opportunity to see how Kendrick Perkins and Wallace played together. The young and quick Nets, with a perimeter-oriented power forward in Yi Jianlian and versatile center Brook Lopez, provided somewhat of a matchup challenge for the Garnett-less frontline. Perkins and Wallace did not meet the challenge as they were a minus-9 when they were on the floor together, including a minus-8 in the first half.

Wallace had 15 points at the half, but Perkins had more turnovers (two) than field goal attempts (one). In the end, the Celtics outrebounded the Nets 49-37, but much of the damage was done after the starting bigs had left the game.

"I didn't think we ever took advantage of our size," Rivers said afterward. "Perk or Sheed, one of them had a mismatch on the post, and we didn't take advantage of it."

Wednesday should have been a chance to give Perkins a day off and allow Garnett and Wallace to spend more time on the floor together. But Wallace suffered a mild sprain of his right ankle against the Nets and will likely sit out against the Raptors.

"There goes those plans," Rivers said.

Check back in six months.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here.

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