PHOENIX — Kevin Garnett missed his first game of the season Friday night, sitting out the Celtics’ 113-88 victory over the Suns to rest.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he could tell that the 36-year-old Garnett hasn’t been the same since a triple-overtime victory over Denver on Feb. 10. Garnett played 47 minutes in that game.
The Celtics played in Charlotte the following night, and against Chicago two days later.
“I just think since that game, you can see he’s been tired,” Rivers said.
Garnett didn’t object when Rivers approached him about sitting out.
“He was fine with it, which told me it was the right thing,” Rivers said. “He didn’t put up a fight at all, and that tells you we were probably a game or two too late. We should have done it a game earlier.”
Rivers said Garnett will probably sit at least one or two more times before the playoffs.
Rivers acknowledged that for the rest of the season, health and rest will be more of a focus.
“Listen, we’re not going to be a 1-seed,” he said. “We know that. We just want to be a seed. We’ve got a lot of road games.
“We’ve got to win games. The neat thing is we’re very close to the fifth seed. It’s going to be health now, for sure, for us.”
The Celtics are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Atlanta for sixth and three games behind Chicago for fifth.
Thin in the frontcourt, the Celtics are close to signing 6-foot-9-inch forward/center D.J. White, a four-year NBA veteran who most recently played in China.
The Celtics hadn’t officially signed White as of Friday night, but Rivers said, “We pretty much think it’s a done deal.”
There are paperwork issues, just as there were with Terrence Williams, who recently signed a 10-day contract after playing in China. However, Rivers said he’s been told White’s case will be “easier” than Williams’s.
The contract terms are unclear, but White would help shore up a front line that has only Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo as backups to Garnett at center.
The Celtics lost a center Thursday when Jason Collins was traded along with guard Leandro Barbosa to Washington for Jordan Crawford.
White played at Indiana University with Crawford, and was drafted in the first round by Detroit in 2009.
He never played for the Pistons, being traded to Oklahoma City, where he played 42 games in three seasons, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
White was dealt to Charlotte in 2011, and played 82 games for the Bobcats, averaging 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds. And in 32 games for the Shanghai Sharks this season, White averaged 21.6 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Crawford felt nervous when he learned he’d been traded to the Celtics. He even started sweating.
“Boston Celtics — that carries a lot of weight,” said the 24-year-old Crawford, who scored 10 points in 15 minutes in his debut Friday night.
Crawford averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games with Washington this season, and is known as a shooter without a conscience. That is, there are few shots, good or bad, that he won’t take, no matter the moment.
“Listen, he’s a scorer,” Rivers said. “Most scorers don’t have a conscience, and that’s a good thing. What you try to teach him is the difference between a good one and a bad one.
“But you don’t want to take away — if he’s a great scorer, great scorers make bad shots. So, a lot of times you just live with it, unless you think it’s hurting the team.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org