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Celtics center Kevin Garnett didn’t play against the Heat Monday night at TD Garden, sitting out because of both an illness and a left adductor strain, which is located in the thigh area. It was the second consecutive game that Garnett missed.
“He’s sick, really,” coach Doc Rivers said before the Celtics’ 105-103 loss. “It’s not the injury. He just has a terrible flu or whatever. And with the injury, we just felt the combination was just too much to play.”
Garnett, who sat out the Celtics’ 105-88 win against Charlotte Saturday night with the adductor strain, didn’t practice Sunday and didn’t participate in the Celtics’ shootaround Monday morning at their practice facility in Waltham.
Rivers said he had a sense that Garnett wasn’t going to play when Garnett didn’t attend shootaround, yet Garnett did come to the Garden several hours before the game began to receive treatment.
However, Rivers said Garnett was in no condition to play.
“Right when I looked at him, I said, ‘You’re not playing,’ ” Rivers said. “He wanted to play, and even [team trainer Ed Lacerte] came in to get me to tell him not to play.”
Rivers said that if Garnett wasn’t sick, he would have played.
Forward Jeff Green started in place of Garnett, as he did for the previous two games Garnett has missed this season, including the Feb. 22 game at Phoenix when Garnett sat out just to rest.
Garnett will travel with the team to New Orleans, and Rivers said he does expect Garnett to play against the Hornets Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Garnett is averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.
It would seem that it’s an easier decision to sit Garnett because the playoffs are nearing and the Celtics would rather have him rested and healthy for the postseason vs. having him play at less than full speed in the regular season.
“I guess it gives him more rest,” Rivers said, “and maybe that will help, too.”
The Celtics’ game plan against Miami didn’t change with Garnett out, Rivers said.
“The way we play is the way we play,” he said. “If this was a playoff game, you’d have time to make changes. But in a one-day thing, you’re not going to make a lot of changes. And, honestly, the way we play is who we are.
“We’re not going to change that. They’re not going to change it if one of their guys is out. So, we’re just going to roll the ball out and see what we have.”
Remarkably, it happened five years ago to the day.
“That’s amazing,” Rivers said. “I thought it was two years ago, because they all go by so quick.”
Yes, on March 18, 2008, the Celtics snapped Houston’s 22-game win streak, winning, 94-74, in Houston.
And Monday night, March 18, 2013, the Celtics faced Miami, which entered the game on a 22-game winning streak.
The Heat’s win broke a tie for the second-longest streak in NBA history; the longest winning streak belongs to the 1971-72 Lakers, who won 33 games in a row.
Reflecting on the Celtics’ streak-snapping win against Houston, Rivers said, “I knew we were playing well. I think we swept Texas that year. So, it was just two teams that were playing very well and I know we felt pretty good going into that game.”
Miami is coming off a championship and is still playing dominant basketball, which Rivers said shows that they have pride.
“They’re champions and they take that mantle and want to prove it,” he said.
“We went through that and, listen, even though you, as a coach, at times thought, ‘Man, this is exhausting, every night they’re attacking us, every team,’ the players are thinking, ‘Yeah, and we’re the champs and we’re going to act like that.’ And what they’re doing right now, they’re acting like they’re champs from last year.”
D.J. White’s second 10-day contract is set to expire at midnight Tuesday and Shavlik Randolph’s second 10-day contract is set to expire at midnight Wednesday.
A team can sign an individual player to only two 10-day contracts in one season, but after that the team can only retain the player by signing him through at least the end of the season.
So the Celtics have a decision to make on both players.
“Danny [Ainge] is in town, so we’ll probably talk about it right after the game,” Rivers said. “We’ll see.”
Rivers has said before that he likes both players and would like to keep them for the sake of continuity, which the Celtics’ roster hasn’t had much of this season with so many injuries to key players.