WALTHAM — Celtics center Kevin Garnett took part in a full-contact practice on Saturday for the first time in nearly two weeks, and the 36-year-old could return to action Sunday against Washington after missing eight consecutive games.
Garnett has been sidelined with inflammation in his left ankle, which he first tweaked March 20 in New Orleans. He played the rest of that game, and then the next against Dallas, before sitting out. Boston has lost five games in his absence.
“Obviously, rest is always a good thing for me,” Garnett said. “I’ve been able to get multiple treatments a day on my foot. I’m getting better.
“I have some issues with my foot. More from like the motion, if you’re pushing the gas pedal. It’s an issue. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be out.”
He added, “Everybody is dealing with their different ailments, I’m no different from that. Obviously, as you get older, things tend to linger a little longer. I am getting stronger. I was able to heal up other things that were nagging me. But just my foot is an issue.”
The Celtics have erred on the side of caution with Garnett, resting him so he’s healthy and prepared for a postseason run. But both Garnett and coach Doc Rivers have said it’s important for Garnett to get some games in before the playoffs so he can get in a rhythm.
“It’s important to get him back on the floor, but if he’s not ready, he’s not ready,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what the number of games is, everybody has their own thing with that, rhythm-wise. I don’t what Kevin’s would be, but I do know he’s been out a while and the playoffs are soon.
“So the sooner he gets back on the floor, the better. And I would lean toward him, now, once he’s cleared health-wise, it’s probably better for him, even if he can’t play a lot of minutes, to play in games. Because no matter what we do in practice, practice will not duplicate a game. And it’s never going to be the same intensity.”
Rivers did say it will take time for Garnett to shake off the rust.
“Kevin’s a systematic player, he’s like [Patrick] Ewing in a lot of ways, when I played with Patrick. Patrick was worse. If Patrick didn’t practice, he was going to be awful in the game. Kevin can [miss] practice and still play.
“Patrick, it was amazing. Some guys, and a lot of the great ones are that way, because they get in their routine. And once they get out of their routine, it takes them a little bit to get back into it.”
Garnett labeled himself as day to day.
“If I’m able [to play], if I’m strong enough and I feel like I can contribute, then yeah, other than that,” he said. “It’s all guts, it’s all grit. That’s pretty much how my makeup is. I’ve always been able to put mind over matter with certain things.”
In other injury news, forward Paul Pierce (right ankle) practiced and could play Sunday. Avery Bradley (bruised left collarbone) did not practice but should play Sunday.
Jordan Crawford will face his former team, the Wizards, for the first time since being traded in February.
“Who?” Crawford asked before practice Saturday when the issue was broached.
Washington, he was told. You’ll be playing Washington. Your old team.
“I don’t recall playing for Washington,” Crawford responded, and he repeated himself.
Crawford, who was acquired by the Celtics at the Feb. 21 trade deadline, didn’t enjoy his time in Washington, as one might infer from his comments.
His stint in D.C. ended poorly. Crawford was upset about his sixth-man role, about being displaced by rookie Bradley Beal, and unsure why his role was shrinking on a club that was building for the future.
Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld summed it up after his club traded Crawford to the Celtics for the expiring contracts of Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins: “Jordan did not fit into our current plans . . . or our future plans.”
As for the difference between playing for his former team and the Celtics, Crawford said, “Just the seriousness it takes every day.”
But does Crawford have something to prove to Washington?
“To who?” he asked.
Washington, the team you don’t remember playing for.
“It’s just another game,” he said. “I want to come out, try to win the game.”