Boston Celtics

Garnett, Perkins return to Celtics practice

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Garnett, Perkins return to Celtics practice

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics saw something in practice Sunday they haven't seen all season - their usual starting five.

The only thing that could have potentially overshadowed Kevin Garnett going through his first full practice since suffering a muscle strain in his lower right leg on Dec. 29 at Detroit was the news that Kendrick Perkins was also able to participate in the Celtics' full contact practice.

It was the first time since Game Six of the NBA Finals last June that the C's had their normal starting five - Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Garnett and Perkins - all on the floor at the same time. In Game Six last June against the Los Angeles Lakers, Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee.

Even though it has been several months since they were on the floor together, the chemistry was just as strong.

"You could just see it with our first unit," said coach Doc Rivers. "Today was the first time this year we had our real first unit on the floor. Today, offensively, it was another level. They could run anything they wanted. Everybody knew where everybody was at."

Perkins didn't waste much time getting back to doing the little things that have made him an important cog in the Celtics success.

During practice, Perkins hit teammate Marquis Daniels with a screen that forced Daniels to sit out the remainder of practice with a sore back. Daniels, who chuckled about it later, said the injury won't prevent him from playing against the Magic.

"I did hit him on the flat screen," said Perkins, also with a grin. "I told him, 'My bad.' He said it was a good pick, but I did catch him on the flat screen."

Perkins wasn't happy about the hit on his teammate. But he was happy about the fact that, after all these months sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, he was able to return and essentially do a number of the things he did prior to the injury.

While Perkins admits his timing is a little bit off, "it wasn't too bad. It was all right. I got a little winded, but I battled through it."

Rivers thought Perkins' practice was "phenomenal."

"Perk went through the whole practice," Rivers said. "Hell, he looked the best. I could make a case for playing him tomorrow, if anybody."

Before you run out and add Perkins to your fantasy league roster, however, Rivers was quick to add: "He will not play right away, obviously. First day for Perk live . . . phenomenal. He was great."

Perkins said he is targeting his return to be Feb. 4 against the Dallas Mavericks.

As for Garnett, being able to go through Sunday's practice bodes well for his chances of being on the floor Monday night against the Orlando Magic.

"I think Kevin will go tomorrow," Rivers said. "We went up and down a little harder on purpose, just to see how his body felt."

If Garnett feels good during the team's walkthrough prior to the game on Monday, he'll play.

But Rivers was quick to add the team will continue to err on the side of caution with all of their players, Garnett included.

"If there's anything not right about Garnett, he will not go," Rivers said.

Of course, not all the injury news for the Celtics was good on Sunday.

Shaquille O'Neal has an adductor strain in his right leg, and did not practice on Sunday. He is questionable for Monday's game.

The Celtics should know early this week whether Jermaine O'Neal plans to have surgery which could potentially keep him out for the rest of the season and some, if not all of the playoffs. O'Neal will head to New York to get a second opinion.

"I think we're leaning towards no surgery, obviously, if he wants to play," Rivers said. "But maybe someone can say he can do it and he can come back in four weeks, that would be different."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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