Don’t expect the Celtics to have a Willis Reed moment in Game 7 tomorrow night.
Kevin Garnett will not only not be available tomorrow but is done for the season, according to Celtics president Danny Ainge. Ainge said in a text message early this morning that the injured All-Star will not be returning for the rest of the playoffs.
“I’m not planning on him the rest of the season,” said Ainge.
Ainge’s comments this morning are consistent with the Celtics’ stance on Garnett’s status since April 16, when coach Doc Rivers announced that the one-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who injured his knee Feb. 19 at Utah and has been in limbo since, would miss the team’s first-round series against the Bulls and very likely wouldn’t play at all in the postseason.
“Yes, he’s out,” coach Doc Rivers said at the time. “I feel for the season, but we just don’t know yet.”
A strain to the popliteus tendon, which sits at the back of the knee, has affected Garnett’s ability to return. The tendon strain must heal naturally, and has taken longer than anticipated. Garnett will likely have offseason surgery on his right knee to remove a bone spur.
Garnett, a 12-time All-Star and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, averaged 15.8 and 8.5 rebounds per game during the regular season. The Celtics have noticeably missed his defensive presence and interior passing skills during this series against the energetic young Bulls.
Garnett missed the final nine games of the regular season and 22 of the final 26 games overall before the playoffs since injuring the knee. He has continued to receive treatment in the slim hopes that he would be able to return at some point.
During this series, he has occasionally tutored fellow big men Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis during practices and shootarounds and also been seen taking jump shots, but he still is moving gingerly. He has sat on the Celtics’ bench during games in street clothes. In the past, he has chosen to watch from the locker room rather than the bench when he is injured because it frustrates him to not be able to contribute.
Garnett will have surgery on the knee after the playoffs end, but the date has not been set, leading to speculation that he may try to play should the Celtics advance in the postseason.