Garnett on returning from injury: 'It's all guts, it's all grit'

Garnett on returning from injury: 'It's all guts, it's all grit'
April 6, 2013, 1:30 pm
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The Celtics playoff success depends on Kevin Garnett's health status.

(USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM -- After being sidelined with left ankle inflammation since last month, Kevin Garnett returned to Celtics practice on Saturday afternoon.

Garnett, who has not played since March 22, has been patiently recovering, aware of the importance of being healthy for the playoffs versus pushing himself to return too soon.

"I have some issues with my foot," Garnett said before practice. "More from like the motion if you were just pushing the gas pedal, and it's an issue. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be out. But I am getting better and I'm going to practice today. Doc and I are going to have a conversation to make some decisions for the future."

The 36-year-old big man has been receiving treatment and head coach Doc Rivers did not expect him to have limitations in practice.

"I think everybody's dealing with their different ailments -- I'm no different from that," said Garnett. "Obviously as you get older things tend to linger a little longer. But I am getting stronger, I'm able to heal up other things that were nagging. But just my foot is an issue."

Once he is cleared to play Rivers would like to get Garnett back on the court, even if for a few minutes, to establish a rhythm. With six games left in the regular season, Garnett and Rivers believe he could benefit from getting in reps.

Being such a systematic player, Rivers says it takes Garnett time to get back into his routine after being out. Yet both player and coach are conscious of the difference between playing for the sake of playing and playing because he can.

"Obviously I want to get a rhythm," said Garnett. "I want to be able to come in and contribute. I want to get as close to 100 percent as I can. I've never come into the postseason 100 percent so it's nothing new. But I do want a rhythm and these last couple games obviously (we have) plans for something and obviously we're trying to get things done. So that's pretty much what it is. I don't want to go into the postseason having no rhythm or not playing, but I want to be healthy. That's first priority."

Echoed Rivers, "It's important for him to get him back on the floor, but if he's not ready, he's not ready. I don't know what the number of games is, everybody has their own thing with that rhythm-wise, each individual player and I don't know what Kevin's would be. But I do know he's been out a while and the playoffs are soon, so the sooner he gets back on the floor, the better. I would lean to him now once he's cleared health-wise, it's probably better for him, even if he can't play a lot of minutes, to play in games because no matter what we do in practice, practice will never duplicate a game. It's never going to be the same intensity."

Garnett does not have a set criteria for when he is healthy enough to play -- "I wish. I wish. I wish. It's not that easy," he laughed -- although he knows his body well enough to have a sense of when he can play to his high standards on the court.

"I'm able, if I'm strong enough, and I feel like I can contribute, than yeah," he said. "Other than that, it's all guts, it's all grit. That's pretty much how my makeup is. I've always been able to put mind over matter with certain things, and then when I was unable to do common things like walk or get in my car or drive myself, then obviously that's an issue.

"Other than that, I used to play through a lot of different things."