The Boston Celtics are in the midst of a four game losing streak and just came off a winless road trip through New Orleans, Dallas, and Memphis. The news got worse today when Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge announced that Kevin Garnett will be out for at least the next two weeks with inflammation in his left ankle.
Garnett missed the 105-88 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on March 16th with a left abductor strain and the 105-103 loss to the Miami Heat on March 18th with the flu. He returned last Wednesday when the Celtics traveled to New Orleans to take on the Hornets. Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury in the 104-94 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Garnett did not suit up in the loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. Then Garnett went for an MRI on Sunday.
With a hobbling Garnett, the Celtics suffered too many breakdowns against the Mavericks with Brandan Wright exploding for 23 points and eight rebounds. After the Celtics got off to a hot start, the Mavericks were able to control the paint and get important rebounds from Wright and Vince Carter when the Celtics pushed the Mavericks’ advantage into single digits. The Celtics’ pick-and-roll defense also suffered without Garnett on the floor.
The Celtics were also without guard Courtney Lee against the Grizzlies. Lionel Hollins and the Grizzlies coaching staff took advantage by inserting Jerryd Bayless with Mike Conley in the backcourt whenever Avery Bradley was on the floor. Bradley is more of an on-ball defender while Lee can cover the other guard. With two weak defenders in Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford, Bayless erupted for a career-high 30 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 110-106 victory over the Celtics. Rivers was forced to empty the bench with the Celtics facing a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter. The reserves got the Celtics back in the game, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
The Celtics are fighting for potential home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs while to trying to avoid getting the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference to face the Heat.They are four and a half games behind the fourth place Brooklyn Nets while only two games ahead of the eighth place Milwaukee Bucks. There is a crucial home game against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The only good news is that Lee is expected to be back on the floor against the Knicks.
While the team is already depleted by injuries, the last thing the Celtics needed was to hear that they will be without Garnett, who is their emotional leader and best defender while there is only 14 games left in the regular season.