Leon Powe has played over 100 games at the TD Garden.
This week, however, he wont be able to add to that total.
Powe, who played the first three years of his career in Boston, suffered a torn right meniscus earlier this month and will stay back in Cleveland to continue his rehab when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics on Tuesday.
I was disappointed, Powe told CSNNE.com. I wanted to go out there to Boston. I havent seen some people, especially the fans, in a while. I wanted to go out there just to say hi to everybody and make sure they see my face.
Powe was drafted by the Celtics in 2006 and was a key role player in their 2008 championship season. After signing with the Cavaliers in 2009-10, he always looked forward to returning to the city where he got his start.
His plans were curtailed, though, during a Jan. 5 contest against the Toronto Raptors. Powe, who is averaging 13 minutes in 14 games this season, was two games off a season-high 14-point performance when the injury occurred.
I was just starting to get into playing some consistent minutes, Powe recalled. I drove and I took somebody from Toronto off the dribble and got fouled. But when I came down, his knee hit my knee in an awkward position. I think my knee shifted a little bit and messed up something inside of it, some cartilage on the meniscus a little bit. Ive got to sit out for four to six weeks, so Im doing rehab for that. Its never fun, but I know how to do it.
Powe is no stranger to rehabbing through pain. He has endured a series of injures to his left knee, including a torn ACL during the first round of the 2009 playoffs with the Celtics.
This time around its a different knee, but the process is the same.
I started on the court today, he said. I did some post moves, jump shots, some stuff on getting to the basket. Motion and movement stuff and the feel for basketball movement. It felt good. The swelling has been going down since the surgery and my movement has been getting better and better. Its only been two weeks and about two days, so they say Im on schedule, everything is looking good.
Once Powe is able to get back on the court, which he projects around the All-Star Break, the hard work will just be beginning.
The Cavaliers kicked off their season with a 95-87 win over the Celtics. They went .500 over their first 10 games, but then began to plummet. At 8-35, the Cavs have the worst record in the NBA. They are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak and have not won since Dec. 18 against the New York Knicks.
Powe has already experienced this kind of skid before. He was a rookie on the 2006-07 Celtics squad that lost 18 game in a row. Four seasons later, he wants to help turn around a losing situation.
Weve been going through a lot of tough times, so I want to help the Cavaliers try to finish out on a good note, he said. What I mean by that is get as many wins as we can and try to compete every game. Just play our hearts out and play every minute like its my last. Even though weve got a losing record, weve still got to go out there and compete and be professionals. You dont just want to keep getting blown out every game. I especially dont like that. I dont like losing at all.
As Powe tries to recover his knee - and the remainder of the Cavs season - he continues to draw strength from the sources that have gotten him this far.
I think its in my family, he said. My mom, everybody has helped me along the way. You never quit on anything. Just because theres something in front of you, it doesnt mean its too big or the challenge is too hard to overcome it. I think I can overcome everything. As long as I know Ill always work hard and I know Im going to do the necessary work, if its rehab or games or guarding somebody in a match up, Im going to do the work and make sure Im well prepared for the game, or especially for rehab because I know all about it.
Even though Powe will not be able to go up against the Celtics on Tuesday, he has seen them in action plenty of times this season.
Ive been watching them, he said. Im a basketball fan so Ive been watching a lot of basketball. The guys out there, theyre still my guys. I still want them to do good, as long as theyre not playing against me and my team (laughs). But other than that, I dont have anything against them. Theyre my guys over there.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA