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Celtics notebook

No green light for Garnett yet

He appears to be ready, but Rivers uses caution

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 12, 2011

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Though Celtics coach Doc Rivers is confident that Kevin Garnett is now healthy enough to play after straining his right calf two weeks ago in Detroit, Garnett sat out yesterday’s practice and will likely miss tonight’s game against the Kings.

“I just don’t think he should play yet,’’ Rivers said. “He did some running on the treadmill and did all the stuff in the weight room. We were on the floor. We went full-court. So he couldn’t.

“I just don’t think he’s ready yet.’’

Though the injury appeared to be serious as Garnett limped off the floor, the Celtics almost immediately said they expected him to return in two weeks. Having reached that point, Rivers said he expects Garnett to play this week, calling him day-to-day. The Celtics play the Bobcats Friday night, the third of six straight home games.

The Celtics are 4-4 since Garnett’s injury. They’ve lost two straight, after the Rockets handed them a 108-102 loss Monday night. Houston was the fourth team to hang 100 points on the Celtics in Garnett’s absence.

But Rivers doesn’t think the team’s struggles come from waiting for Garnett’s return.

“They may be, but I don’t sense that,’’ Rivers said. “This is just a low-focus stretch. It happens, but we’ve got to stay on top of it, that it doesn’t happen.

“It’s that time of year. Almost the All-Star break. After the holidays. But this is the time, that mental toughness that I’m talking about that we have to lean on.’’

The Celtics have been playing the waiting game with a handful of players. Kendrick Perkins, recovering from a torn ACL, was cleared to practice yesterday, but Rivers decided to hold him out because the session was so physical.

“We went pretty hard, so I didn’t want him out there in that,’’ said Rivers. “But he did the skeleton stuff and he did some running up and down. We did a lot of contact stuff and I didn’t want him to be a part of that.’’

Perkins expects to return to full practice in a week and be back in games in three weeks.

“Another week and they’ll slowly put me in,’’ Perkins said. “I’m just anxious to get back out there.’’

West progressing Still hoping to return before the All-Star break in late February, Delonte West picked up a basketball Monday for the first time since breaking his right (non-shooting) wrist Nov. 24 against the Nets.

Wearing a brace, he shot free throws after practice, gently using his right hand as a guide, but never using it to receive the soft bounce passes back to him. He hopes to progress to catching the ball and dribbling next week.

“Every day feels better,’’ he said. “I’m able to get some work in, so it’s a positive. The wrist is still weak and sore, but it’s getting there.’’

Even though he’s on the floor, he still struggles doing simple things.

“It’s little things around the house,’’ West said. “You try to carry groceries into the house, you realize you can’t pick a bag up or try to turn a doorknob and you can’t turn a doorknob all the way. So it’s some reminders.

“A few times, I forgot my wrist broke and tried to get off the couch and put pressure on, and it reminds you real fast. Pain’s a hell of a reminder.’’

A Wallace return? Making an appearance on Dan Patrick’s radio show, NBA insider Stephen A. Smith floated the idea of Rasheed Wallace coming out of retirement and returning to the Celtics this season.

Rivers announced after the Celtics’ loss in Game 7 of the Finals last spring that Wallace would walk away from the game, and after some wavering over the summer, Wallace and the Celtics agreed to a buyout, freeing up the mid-level exception and allowing the Celtics to sign Jermaine O’Neal.

Going into the season, everyone from O’Neal (who is close with Wallace from their days together in Portland) to Paul Pierce said they would attempt to change Wallace’s mind. And Rivers has made innocuous, if accidental, references to Wallace possibly returning.

Wallace is an unrestricted free agent and could sign for the veteran minimum.

Shake it off Ray Allen showed no lingering effects from the fall on his shoulder he took in the fourth quarter Monday night. “He shot it every time,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t think there’s any issue with his shoulder. Probably a little stinger from that illegal pick.’’ . . . With the snowstorm in the forecast, the Celtics were considering the possibility of a postponement tonight. The Kings played in Washington last night and essentially would be traveling with the storm. Last night’s game between the Bucks and Hawks in Atlanta was postponed. “It could happen,’’ said Rivers. “We would try to take advantage of it. I don’t know what we would do in that case. So, let’s play the game.’’ . . . Before yesterday, the Celtics’ last official practice was Dec. 27 in Indiana.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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