Celtics-Knicks preview: Garnett (foot) out

Celtics-Knicks preview: Garnett (foot) out
March 31, 2013, 11:45 am
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NEW YORK -- Kevin Garnett is with the Boston Celtics. And when injured players -- like Garnett -- are with their teams, it often signals that they are close to returning to action.

"Or they just wanted to go to New York City," quipped Rivers, who added, "he's feeling a lot better."

Better, but not good enough to suit up tonight. Team officials said the inflammation on Garnett's left foot would keep him sidelined for at least two weeks.

Assuming the two week window began after his last game (at Dallas on March 22), that would put his return to the floor this Friday at the TD Garden against Cleveland. The C's have hesitated to target a specific game for Garnett to return to the lineup, however.

His absence has afforded others to step into the spotlight and carry the C's on many nights. Among those players is Jeff Green who has played well with Garnett sidelined.

In the seven games Garnett has missed, which have all been starts for Green, he has averaged 23.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 54.7 percent from the field.

"It's just a matter of staying aggressive," Green told CSNNE.com. "Not just me, but the entire team. We're at our best when we're all aggressive out there."

The need to play a more aggressive brand of basketball will certainly be on tap tonight for the Celtics have a shot at evening up their head-to-head series with the Knicks. Here are some other factors to weigh leading up to tonight's matchup.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Shavlik Randolph, coming off a nine-point, 13-rebound performance in Boston's win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, will be the C's first big man off the bench tonight. Randolph said his approach going forward won't be any different than it was leading up to the Hawks game. "I know my role, and that's to come in, provide energy, defend, rebound and help this team win," he told CSNNE.com in a phone interview following the Hawks game. "That's the only thing I'm focused on right now."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony. Pierce is coming off his third triple-double this season of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in win over the Hawks. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to play his way into the league MVP conversation with 27.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: J.R. Smith is on a roll that you seldom see from a reserve, even a high-scoring one such as himself. Smith comes into tonight's game having scored 30 or more points off the bench in New York's last three games which includes dropping 32 points on Celtics last week. "He's playing really well for them," C's forward Jeff Green told CSNNE.com. "We definitely have to try and find a way to slow him down some tonight."

STAT TO TRACK:  The C's failed in a number of categories when these two played last week, but few stick out like the second-chance points differential. Although Boston was just minus-1 on the boards for the game, the Knicks out-rebounded them 15-7 on the offensive glass and that led to a decisive 29-6 Knicks advantage in second-chance points.