BOSTON – Kevin Garnett makes his long-awaited return to the floor Sunday evening along with Paul Pierce as the Celtics face a revamped Wizards team that has reinvented itself upon the return of John Wall.
Garnett will return to the starting lineup without any official restrictions. “I’ll watch Kevin,” Doc Rivers said. “I mean, I doubt if he plays his normal 30 minutes. So I’ll watch him but there’s no limitation by any of the doctors or anything.”
Both Pierce and Garnett have been out with ankle injuries, but the soreness is gone for the most part and they are ready to return to the starting lineup. “They said they felt good today so that’s a good sign because we worked hard yesterday and neither one felt like he was sore or anything like that,” Rivers said.
While Pierce has only missed a couple games, Garnett has been out for the past two weeks. The first issue when returning from a lower body injury is getting back to peak conditioning. “He looked good. He looked normal,” Doc said. “Really, it’s just his wind was absent. Other than that, basketball wise, he looked great.”
Avery Bradley bruised his left collarbone in Friday night’s loss to the Cavaliers, but he will start Sunday night. It will be a seemingly rare occurrence in the Garden for the Celtics, as they will suit up all of their active players for the first time in weeks.
“It will be nice to look at the bench and see more guys down there,” Doc joked. “But I expect us, you know, to be well rested because of it. Different guys playing now. So it’s nice because you have time to try to get some kind of rhythm back.”
The Celtics get a visit from their old teammate Jason Collins, who was traded for Jordan Crawford on deadline day in February. Considering the Celtics’ struggles with their interior defense over the past month, it comes as no surprise that Doc misses him.
“He literally is one of the best guys, I’ve said it before, but he is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room. Player or coach,” Doc said.
“It’s funny, I didn’t know him very well until we got him. I literally didn’t. I used to call him, the two twins, I just called them the same name: Jason. Both of them. I didn’t know which one was which. He’s just good. He’s a good guy and what he says is the truth.
Collins’ role was reduced, for the most part, to manning the pivot and pick setting on offense. But he had a notable impact on the locker room that left a void upon his departure. “He’s just honest,” Doc said. “He’s honest with the coaching staff, but he’s honest with payers. A player will complain about something and he’ll tell him the truth when guys don’t want to hear the truth.”