Celtics coach Doc Rivers sounded more like a lawyer than a doctor.
He had finally seen the evidence from the night before, footage of his all-star forward Kevin Garnett caught in wave of chaos in front of the Miami Heat bench. He defended Garnett, who found himself in the situation after trying to protect a fallen Paul Pierce and wound up in an altercation with Quentin Richardson. But what struck Rivers was Quentin Richardson was there to begin with.
“He had no business over there,” Rivers said. “We had a guy on the floor injured. There was no reason for him to be there. And then, going by all reports, not only just the crowding, but it was the taunting. You’ve got a guy injured on the floor, I don’t think you should be standing over him [telling him] to get up and I can’t even use the words he used.”
Garnett wound up throwing an elbow that caught Richardson solidly in the face. Now, with the NBA looking into the incident, the Celtics have to prepare for the possibility Garnett being suspended for Game 2 Tuesday night at the Garden.
“In Kevin’s case, when I watched it I looked at it differently. Live, I couldn’t tell because I hadn’t seen it, but just watching it to me, he was just clearing space, it wasn’t a punch and I don’t think he knew what someone was behind him. But it happened. So let’s hope for the best. That’s all we can do.”
Garnett said he didn’t regret his actions but acknowledged that as a veteran and a key piece on a Celtics team trying to reach the Finals, he had to control his emotions. Having played big games in his absence, the Celtics said they’d be ready if he had to miss Tuesday’s game.
“We better be,” Rivers said.
“If he has to sit out then we just have to go out and play,” said Paul Pierce. “That’s out of my hands to determine that. If he’s there that’s great, if not we’ve got guys that can step up.”
Dwight Howard was suspended for one game in last year’s playoffs for elbowing Samuel Dalembert, but Garnett’s case is different.
“We’ve seen worse,” Rivers said. “but this is a tough one because it’s a clear case that one guy kind of started [it]. So it’ll be interesting how they view that one.”