Pregame: KG, Pierce, Bradley to start
April, 7, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics welcome back both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on Sunday night against the Washington Wizards.
Garnett missed the last eight games due to left ankle inflammation, while Pierce sat out Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a sore right ankle. The duo will join a new-look starting lineup alongside Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Brandon Bass (that combo has spent a mere 13 minutes together this season).
Bradley suffered a bruised collarbone in Friday's loss and sat out practice on Saturday, but is in the starting lineup despite lingering soreness. He'll be needed to contain Wizards point guard John Wall (more on him below).
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said both Garnett and Pierce felt good after going through Saturday's practice session and he doesn't expect any limitations for his players.
"I’ll watch Kevin, I doubt if he plays his normal 30 minutes, so I’ll watch him, but there’s no limitations by any of the doctors or anything," Rivers said.
Asked about having nearly a full lineup available, Rivers said, "It’ll be nice to look down the bench and see more guys down there. That’ll be nice. I wouldn’t be surprised to be a little rusty because of [the time missed]... [but] it’s nice because you have time to to try to get some kind of rhythm back."
A couple more pregame nuggets:
* HITTING THE WALL: Rivers gushed about the recent play of Wall, but said his eye-popping stat lines might have more to do with health than development. "I think his development came over the last couple years and now he’s putting it into play," Rivers said. "He’s playing terrific. He’s getting to the foul line at a record pace. He’s [averaging] 14, or 13½ [free throws] over the last seven or eight games, that’s crazy. I think what people miss with Washington though is the job that [coach Randy Wittman has] done with the defense. They are fifth in the league defensively. So I think everyone’s talking about Wall, while they are building the wall defensively. You guys like that play on words? I worked on that all day."
* DOC'S GOT MORE JOKES: That wasn't Rivers' only playful moment of the pregame session. Asked about Wittman, his former teammate, and whether he knew the two would be coaches some day, Rivers noted, "I knew Randy would be a coach, for sure. He talked about it all the time. And he coached a ton when we played. He used to say 'help' a lot defensively because he was always getting beat off the dribble. We just assumed he’d be coaching, you really did."