Saturday, March 21, 2009
Updated: March 22, 7:06 PM ET
Garnett to play 15 minutes vs. Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Boston forward Kevin Garnett was expected to be limited to about 15 minutes again Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies as he continues to play his way back after missing 13 games with a right knee strain.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game that he hopes to extend the All-Star's minutes on Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
In his first game back Friday night against San Antonio, Garnett played 14:39 -- about 7 minutes at the start of both halves -- scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and grabbing four rebounds. Garnett seemed to recover well Saturday, so Rivers planned to keep the same timetable.
"Maybe I'll squeeze 8 [minutes per half]," Rivers said.
By Monday, the Celtics coach hopes to add 4-minute stretches in the second and fourth quarters.
"We didn't want to do it [Saturday], so we'll just wait," Rivers said.
Garnett is the Celtics' third-leading scorer with 16.2 points per game and leads Boston in rebounds with 8.7.
Garnett's return and almost 40 minutes for guard Ray Allen, who missed Wednesday's game against Miami with a right elbow strain, was a welcome sight for Rivers, although there were times his team was a bit out of rhythm.
Rivers said the Celtics struggled early against San Antonio because Allen and leading scorer Paul Pierce (20.5) were trying to get the ball to Garnett, even at times passing up open looks. He laughingly noted that Pierce wouldn't have been making those decisions if Garnett had not missed the games, and Rivers had to finally call timeout Friday night to remind Pierce and Allen that their job is to shoot.
"That's good that they want to do that," Rivers said. "That's a good trait of a team that they are trying to fit the guy back in."
Rivers said Garnett's knee stiffened some between his shift in the first and to open the third quarter. But his third-quarter return led to much smoother play by the defending champions.
"There was a stretch [against San Antonio] in the third quarter, where I said: Hey, that's the Celtics. Our team is back," Rivers said. "You could actually see it when Kevin was sprinting the floor, and we were getting stops.
"That reminded me of the team we had a month ago. It was good to see."