Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett admitted he wasn't surprised by the one-game suspension handed down by the NBA for the elbow he landed to the face of Quentin Richardson during a fourth-quarter fracas with the Miami Heat in Saturday's Game 1. And, as he did before he learned his fate Sunday, tried to defuse the situation.
"No, I wasn't surprised at all, to be honest," said Garnett. "I told my man, [Celtics vice president of media relations] Jeff Twiss, when we were talking that I just want my message to be done, and all of this to be over with. My message here is: Whoever it is, my teammates, [Celtics coach] Doc Rivers, or anyone in the organization, I want them to know I got their back.
"The elbow wasn't deliberate. The league does what it has to do to set the tone. I respect that. It's time to move on and get back to a wonderful series."
Garnett did grit his teeth when asked about whether the instigator in the situation -- Richardson -- should have gotten more than a $25,000 fine.
"You know how it goes," said Garnett. "The person that usually instigates something is not the one that usually gets the penalty. But it's over. It's what it is. We've both been dealt with."
Rivers, who stressed Sunday before finding out about the punishment that the whole situation might have been avoided had Richardson not instigated the incident by standing near an injured Paul Pierce and suggested he was exaggerating his maladies, again campaigned for the league to be harsher with instigators.
"My only statement on the whole thing, I accept Kevin being suspended, if you go by the letter of the law, you kinda knew it was going to go that way," said Rivers. "But if your really want to stop the fights, you gotta suspend the agitator, too. I think right now, the agitator gets fined, the retaliator gets suspend in all these things. Until they stop the agitator, and fine them, and suspend them both, then you'll have these things.
Garnett practiced with the second team Monday, joking he hadn't done that since his rookie season in Minnesota. Asked what he'll do during Tuesday's Game 2, he noted he's likely going to watch the contest at the home of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
"[Not being able to play will be] very difficult," said Garnett. "Danny Ainge is planning on having me at his house to watch the game. It's going to be an experience. Danny talks through the whole [damn] game."
In the portion of practice open to the media Monday, the Celtics closed out their practice session by utilizing Glen Davis with the starting unit. But Rivers noted that he rotated numerous players at that power forward spot during the session and wouldn't reveal his plan for a Game 2 starter.
"I don't know yet, we used three or four or five guys," said Rivers, setting up his punchline. "So Oliver [Lafayette] right now might be the guy."
Lafayette, a 6-foot-2 guard signed last week from the NBA Development League with eyes towards competing for a spot on next year's roster, is unlikely to be in the mix, but Davis and Rasheed Wallace each provide potential positives for the Celtics if used in that role. While both are certain to play extended minutes, the decision on a starter hasn't been easy for Rivers.
"They're completely different players," said Rivers. "Rasheed gives us more size, he gives us a better post player, between him and Baby. And he spreads the floor. Baby gives you energy and Baby moves his feet a little better in the Michael [Beasley] matchup. They are so completely different, that's what makes this decision so difficult. It would be easy if they were similar, you'd just say, 'Him, we'll start him.' But they're not, so it's tough."
No one would reveal the game plan, but some hinted it might be Davis who gets thrust into the starting role.
For his part, Davis continued to stress that the "Ticket Stub," his Garnett-inspired nickname from his moniker as the "Big Ticket," is ready to return if needed Tuesday.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.