CHICAGO -- Given the fact that a second night off on Thursday would have afforded Kevin Garnett and his sore left hip a full week between games -- a venerable February vacation in this crazy condensed NBA season -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers left it up to his veteran big man to decide if he would join the team on the flight to Chicago after Wednesday's loss to the Detroit Pistons.
"Kevin, when he wants to play, he lets you know he wants to play," said Rivers. "And when we got on the plane last night, and I had literally left it up to him, to be on or not, for his body’s sake, he was waiting for all of us. So that was good."
After tweaking his hip flexor in Sunday's win over the Bulls, Garnettt sat out practice on Tuesday and was a late-scratch for Wednesday's loss to the Pistons (despite going through shootaround that morning). Rivers admits he usually errs on the side of caution, but won't stand in the way of Garnett if he's got medical clearance.
"Listen, I stay out of the trainer’s room, you know that," said Rivers. "It’s more [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Kevin."
Lacerte had originally suggested a three-day break and that's all they could keep Garnett down for. The Celtics don't play again after Thursday until Sunday in Detroit, which would have allowed Garnett a full week between games if he waited to return until then, but he is clearly more impatient than Rivers typically is.
"Honestly, if I’m going to err, it’s usually on the rest side with the veteran guys, and probably the play side with the young guys, that’s probably how I do it," said Rivers. "And, with Kevin, usually you lean [more] towards not playing him than playing him."
But with Wednesday's disappointing loss to the Pistons, it probably made it even more difficult to convince Garnett to rest. Rivers said he'll do his usual eyeball test to make sure Garnett isn't playing through any more pain than necessary.
"I just watch," said Rivers. "His minutes are limited anyway; We limit his minutes every night... Having said that, if we see anything -- I’m pretty close with Kevin as far as, if I see anything, it’s shutdown."
For the Bulls, Derrick Rose (back) remains out again and coach Tom Thibodeau classified his status as still, "day to day." Like the Celtics often do, the Bulls are exercising extra caution and have won enough games early in the year to do such.