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BOSTON (CBS) – After a two week break to rest inflammation in his left ankle, Kevin Garnett return to the Celtics in Sunday night’s 107-96 win over the Washington Wizards.
It may have come against the lowly Wizards, but Garnett was active from the get-go. He took his spot in the Celtics starting five alongside Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass and logged 24 minutes. By the end of the evening, Garnett had 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting while pulling down six rebounds, dishing out one assist and blocking one shot.
The stat line isn’t anything overwhelming, but Garnett’s mere presence makes all the difference for this Celtics squad.
“I feel good because I know when we’re all out there and we’re on, we’re as tough as anybody in the East to beat, especially with Kevin’s presence,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said of Garnett’s return. “We’re not going anywhere without Kevin’s presence — just being honest with you. He’s a big part of what we try to do out there on offense and defense. We play through him a lot. He anchors the defense. It’s going to be important for him in these last few of games to get his legs back and get going.”
Garnett said after the game it was good to just be on the floor again.
“I felt OK,” he said. “I felt strong enough to play and I thought I did decent in my minutes. I picked and chose when I was aggressive, did the things I typically do. That was it.”
“I thought he was really good. I thought his rhythm was good. I was surprised how well he was running.” said head coach Doc Rivers. “I don’t know what we played him, 24 minutes? That was perfect; I wanted 20 but I didn’t want 25.”
With just five games remaining in the regular season, the Celtics wanted to get Garnett some game-action before the postseason. After missing eight games to rest his ankle, Sunday was a good sign there wasn’t too much rust to knock off on Garnett’s part. He’ll likely receive another game or two off over the next two weeks, and will be on a strict minutes limit.
But it was good to see Garnett active and aggressive, showing no signs of the bad ankle.
With Sunday’s win they improved to 40-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. With five games left, the Celtics would face the two-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the postseason.