BOSTON -- Celtics forward Kevin Garnett will miss his eighth consecutive game Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings and Boston's frontcourt will be further thinned as reserve center Jermaine O'Neal will not play because of soreness that has returned in his left knee.
"My conversation with [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] was, ‘Is he ready to go?’ And he said: ‘Well, if it was a playoff game then yes, but I think we should hold him out for a couple more days," Rivers said. As for Friday's game, Rivers added, "It will really depend on what we do [Thursday]. My guess is no, because after that we have two days off, and my thinking right now is, unless he comes out and practices the whole practice and looks great, it’s probably off Friday. Then what do we play Monday? I can’t guarantee that, but that’s my thinking."
Rivers reiterated that Garnett is probably getting a little antsy to play, but the team is exercising its typical caution, while stressing to him not to be discouraged.
"He’s so emotional, we just want to make sure he doesn't get down about stuff," Rivers said. "That’s where I'm always concerned with him -- him starting that, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ stuff. You don’t want him to go there. It’s not a bad injury. He doesn’t like missing games. I think his goal was to play all 82. The fact that that’s not going to happen [makes him angry]. That's just who he is and that's a good thing in the long run."
While Rivers remains unconcerned about any sort of larger issue with Garnett, the same can't be said for O'Neal. Rivers learned that O'Neal's left knee, which has already sidelined him for 20 games this season, swelled up this morning. He found out O'Neal wouldn't be able to play about 75 minutes before tip-off.
"I’m concerned," said Rivers. "Listen, he’s gone two weeks now and a practice, and his knee swelled up. First off, it has to be extremely frustrating for him. He worked his butt off to get back and he’s playing well. Secondly, we all have common sense and that’s the concern: Why is this happening? We have to figure that out."
Rivers then lightened the mood by adding, "Well, not me, obviously, but someone else."
O'Neal sat out the second half of a win over the Raptors on Friday, but said it was merely precautionary in a lopsided game with a back-to-back looming the next night in Chicago. O'Neal did admit to soreness that night and clearly that pain has increased.
Expect rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden to get an uptick in minutes again with the frontcourt ailing. Rivers stressed that he'd like to see more energy from Erden. Harangody has gotten most of the available minutes lately thanks to his energetic play.