Let’s catch up on a few things on a lazy, wintry, Sunday afternoon.
If it’s not wintry wherever you’re reading this, then I envy you.
Oh, how I envy you.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston checks in with a report from practice today where Kevin Garnett went through the full routine with his teammates. Said Rivers:
“I think Kevin will go [Monday], but again, we went through practice to see if he can play,” said Rivers. “Meaning, we’ll know after practice now. If he looks good, he’ll go; If he doesn’t, if there’s anything, he will not go. I’d probably put it back to 50/50. He went up and down a little harder on purpose, just to see how his body felt. If he feels good, he’ll play; If he doesn’t, even if it’s just a little, we’ll keep him out.”
The bottom line for the Celtics is whether Garnett returns against the Magic or in Wednesday’s game against the Pistons, it does appear he’s going to return, which should kill off the last of the conspiracy theories around his injury and give the C’s a major shot in the arm. There’s no need to reiterate all that KG means to this team. Without him, there’s no chance at a title. With him, the C’s may be the favorite.
As is par for the course with the 2010-11 Celtics, as one big man returns, another gets hurt. Shaquille O’Neal strained his right abductor after slipping on the ice on his way into practice. He’s day-to-day, an unfortunate blip given his strong performance against Charlotte, Semih Erden’s ongoing injury problems and especially with Dwight Howard arriving in town today.
THE BEAST IS (ALMOST) BACK
The news on Kendrick Perkins is nothing less than great. He reunited with Garnett and his teammates on the Celtics’ first unit today and looked impressive enough that Doc Rivers joked about throwing him out against the Magic tomorrow.
“Perk went through the whole practice,” said Rivers. “Hell, he looked the best. I could make the case for playing him tomorrow as much as anybody. He won’t play, obviously, but this was the first day for Perk live and he was phenomenal.”
That optimistic assessment aside, Perkins is aiming to return February 4 in Boston against the Dallas Mavericks. That’s a moving target, undoubtedly, but perhaps he’ll be back sooner than that. We’re now seven months since his injury and he’s had no setbacks.
Knock. On. Wood.
After the jump – the latest on Jermaine O’Neal, Doc’s contract and the Heat lose again.
TO BE CUT OR NOT TO BE CUT
That is the question for J.O., who will make his decision on whether to go under the knife on Tuesday. You can read too much into these little status-update comments but as of Sunday, Rivers suggested O’Neal might avoid surgery and try and play his way through the injury. Of course, avoiding surgery early in the season is what got O’Neal and the Celtics to the point they’re at now.
Regardless of what decision is made, the Celtics need to be realistic about O’Neal’s go-forward contributions. If the C’s end up in long playoff series, O’Neal can’t be counted on to be able to play when the chips are down. It would seem wise for Rivers to put together a big-man rotation where J.O. can slip in as a bonus seven-footer, if he’s able. To that end, it certainly looks like Perkins, Shaq, KG, and Glen Davis will be the core bigs as we head up to the all-star break.
DOC TARGETS TOMMY?
The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy dips his toes into the Doc Rivers contract extension waters and finds them typically lukewarm. Rivers passed K.C. Jones in victories this week and now sits third on the all-time Celtics’ list with 309, trailing only Tommy Heinsohn and some guy named Red. But will Doc stick around long enough to pass Tommy’s 427 victories? He’s not committing to anything yet.
Danny Ainge, singled out by Rivers for his support Wednesday after the coach passed K.C. Jones on the victory list with a win over Sacramento, said his offer for Rivers to return, and continue their working relationship of the last six-plus seasons, remains on the table.
“We’ve talked on a few occasions,” the Celtics president of basketball operations said. “The bottom line is that he’s not ready to think about his future. But there is a standing offer. I recently talked to his agent about it, and for now we just let it go at that.”
However, he is thinking about it. Last Thursday, on WEEI, Rivers laughed off the possibility of overtaking Red Auerbach. But asked if he could win enough games to pass Heinsohn for second place on the list, Rivers said:
“Yeah, I could. That would be nice. That would mean we’re still doing well and playing well.”
It’s hardly confirmation Rivers intends to return but in his comments since re-upping for the 2010-11 season, you can find a real appreciation in Doc’s words for the group of players on his team, his relationship with Danny Ainge and the satisfaction he gets out of his job. As we all know, great jobs aren’t that easy to find.
HEAT LOSE THIRD IN A ROW
Did anyone see the Miami-Chicago game last night? Definitely a candidate for game of the year. If you have League Pass, go check out the fourth quarter. It’s worth your time.
Lebron James sat out with his sprained ankle, Chris Bosh left in the third quarter with the same injury, and the Bulls led most of the way in this one. But Dwayne Wade kept the Heat within striking distance with a series of clutch three-pointers down the stretch, until Kyle Korver finally iced it with a three of his own.
It’s impossible to watch the Bulls without fixating on Derrick Rose, who is just an absurd talent. The Heat routinely loaded up two defenders on him above the arc but he still managed to break through to the rim on his way to 34 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Look at how he splits the first double team to get into the paint and then beats a pair of help defenders for the layup.
With the loss, the Heat are now 1.5 games back of the Celtics for top spot in the east, and three games back in the loss column.
For those watching it, enjoy the Patriots game. And make sure you join us tomorrow as the Celtics ignore the lessons of Martin Luther King and seek revenge against the Orlando Magic.