Kevin Garnett traveled with the Celtics to New York on Saturday, a sign to some that the future Hall of Famer might be closing in on a return to the court. Then, he didn’t travel to Minnesota on Sunday, a likely sign that the trip to New York was nothing more than a trip to New York.
But more revealing than KG’s travel schedule was a conversation at MSG between Doc Rivers and Jackie MacMullan, during which the coach provided a little more insight into Garnett’s bum ankle/foot/whatever the team wants to call it.
"Honestly, he's fine," Rivers told MacMullan. "It's a bone something, a bone spur that just needs to relax and calm down. I think that's what it is. It's his ankle. If we were in the playoffs tonight, Kevin would absolutely be playing."
This is the first time we’ve heard the term “bone spur” used to describe Garnett’s current ailment, and that sets off a siren in the brain of Celtics Nation -- thanks to memories of the injury that derailed Garnett’s 2009 season and haunted him for close to a year after that.
However, I’m not going down the 2009 path. First, because the foot/ankle is not the knee. Second, because by all accounts, KG’s previous “spur” was the size of Boris Diaw.
So instead of 2009, let’s just go back to 2012.
And instead of KG, let’s talk about Ray Allen.
It’s easy to forget now, in the aftermath of all the insanity surrounding his departure, but a bone spur in Allen’s ankle played a major role in last year’s drama. That’s why he missed time at the tail end of the season. That’s why Avery Bradley was able to sneak into the starting line-up. And sadly, that’s in large part why Allen’s 2012 playoff campaign was the worst of his entire career. In all, Allen shot .395 from the field, .304 from long-range and .711 from the line last post season. All three were easily career playoff lows.
Here’s how Rivers described the effect the spurs had on Allen’s game:
"I don't think he has his balance. You could see it on his [missed] free throws, or he's falling forward or kicking his leg out on every shot. When you watch Ray, he's up and down -- if you drew a square box, usually Ray always lands in the box. Right now, he's all over the place -- leaning, going sideways, falling forward. It's somewhat of a balance issue, but it's all created by the [ankle] issue."
But more concerning, is the way Rivers described the injury before the playoffs even began:
"I don’t think it’s that serious. They are just trying to get the swelling down," Rivers said. "If there was a playoff game, would he play? Yeah probably."
Of course, he eventually did play in the playoffs. Just like I’m sure KG eventually will. But if we’ve learned one thing about bone spurs -- whether it was last year or in 2009 -- it’s that they don’t just disappear after a week or two of rest. They may feel better or “calm down” but once you get back on the court, they have a knack for coming back to bite you.
And while the Celtics were able to find success last year when Ray Allen wasn’t at his best, this year’s team won’t do the same unless Kevin Garnett is at his.