|Celtics' Garnett misses 2nd practice for family reasons|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 18 April 2008 13:23|
They know he'll suit up when it counts, in their playoff opener against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
``Even though he's away, he's tuned in to what we're doing,'' Paul Pierce said. ``We're not worried because we know he'll be fine when he gets back.''
The Celtics gave no details of Garnett's absence, but the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported that sources said his wife had a baby.
``You want him to be around, but he's taking care of personal matters,'' Pierce said.
Practice was quieter Thursday and Friday without Garnett's vocal leadership. The Celtics didn't seem to miss it during the season, going 7-2 when he was sidelined with an abdominal strain.
``We played extremely well when he was out,'' point guard Rajon Rondo said, ``and that's the way we approached it today.''
Rivers expected Garnett to show up at the practice facility Friday night to review plans for the Hawks series, meet with the team's video personnel and walk through plays his teammates practiced.
Garnett went to the playoffs eight times in his 12 seasons with Minnesota and got past the first round once, in 2003-04 when the Timberwolves lost in the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
He has a good chance to get to the Eastern Conference finals with the Celtics, who had the NBA's best record.
``He's ready. He came up short the last opportunity he had,'' said Boston guard Sam Cassell, who won titles with Houston in his first two pro seasons and was Garnett's teammate in 2003-04.
Boston (66-16) had 29 more wins this season than Atlanta (37-45) and held the Hawks below 90 points in each of the teams' three meetings, all Celtics wins.
Garnett exceeded his season averages in those games with 23.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and a 62.5 percent shooting percentage.
``They'll be hungry,'' Pierce said. ``I think guys are looking to make a name for themselves. Joe Johnson is a great player.''
Johnson, a former Celtics draft choice, led the Hawks with 21.7 points per game, but Boston coach Doc Rivers also is concerned about point guard Mike Bibby, who averaged 14.1 points in 33 games since Atlanta traded for him.
``Having Bibby changes them,'' Rivers said. ``He directs things and he knows (playoff basketball). He can take over a game. So can Joe Johnson. (Al) Horford has been a great rookie for them.''
The Hawks are in the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and the Celtics are heavily favored. Garnett could take part in Saturday's practice.
``When Kevin's here, our defensive intensity is always tops,'' Rivers said. ``Today at practice, it wasn't, but the guys were able to pick it up themselves during the practice. It was something I was proud to see.''
He doesn't mind that the Celtics won't play until Sunday in the last playoff series to start. Their regular-season ended Wednesday.
``We'd rather be playing now,'' Rivers said. ``We're ready to play, but because of the Kevin situation, the extra day helps.''