BOSTON — More than two hours before tip-off, Kevin Maurice Garnett was in the building for the Boston Celtics.
But that would be as close as he would get to playing, with the C's deciding to sit Garnett for the second straight game due to a left adductor strain injury.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said shortly after the injury that the injury isn't serious, but that won't stop Celtics Nation from worrying about when the 36-year-old veteran will return to the floor.
This will be Garnett's third game missed this season, and the second for the C's to play the Heat without one of their key players.
In Boston's 100-98 double overtime win on Jan. 27 against the Heat, the C's found out shortly before tip-off that Rajon Rondo would be out for the rest of the season because of a torn right ACL injury.
The absence of Garnett hurts the C's on multiple levels.
Boston will surely miss his defensive presence. In addition, Garnett's ability to spread the floor offensively as well as help direct the offense in the absence of Rondo, will be another area in which the rest of the C's have to pick up the slack.
And the Heat know all too well just how important Garnett has been to the Celtic's success, especially since Rondo went out.
"He's great for his team," Miami's Shane Battier told CSNNE.com. "He's still one of the best defenders in this league. When Rondo went out, they were still an excellent, excellent defensive team and Kevin Garnett, he has a lot to do with that."
As far as when Garnett will return to the floor, he is expected to travel with the C's on their upcoming three-game road trip that begins on Wednesday at New Orleans.
Jeff Green will get the start tonight in Garnett's place.