Sore knee to sideline Garnett

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Kevin Garnett will miss at least the next four games with a sore right knee and may return for the final three games of the Boston Celtics' regular season.

The emotional leader and defensive star of the defending NBA champions has missed 15 of the last 19 games, including the last two. The Celtics hope the rest will help him get healthy for the playoffs.

Coach Doc Rivers said after practice Tuesday that the team would be "shutting down" Garnett for most of the remaining seven regular-season games because of continued soreness in the knee, first injured Feb. 19 at Utah.

"After watching him move today, we're just going to shut him down," Rivers said. "It probably won't be for the year. He'll probably play by the end, last couple of games or last three games. It's just not progressing the way we anticipated it would progress."

The Celtics began the day in third place in the Eastern Conference, five games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and percentage points behind the Orlando Magic. They resume play Wednesday night at home against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Garnett missed 13 games and then played sparingly in the next four in which he averaged 9 points and 16.5 minutes. He sat out the last two games, both wins, Friday night at Atlanta and Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"We assumed we were going to practice him, and right now, we're not even going to do that," Rivers said. "We're going to shut him down until the soreness goes away and the swelling goes away and then we bring him back up."

Garnett is averaging 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 57 games. Without him, the Celtics (56-19) were 7-6 in their first 13 games. They were 3-1 when he returned and 2-0 in their last two when he was sidelined.

"We're just going to shut him down until we feel like he's ready," Rivers said. "It's nothing structural. It's the same thing that it's been. It's just not reacting the same way we thought it would react. He didn't react to the games we thought he would and he's clearly not reacting to practice the way we thought he would."

Boston's next four games are all at home against the Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat. The last three are at Cleveland and Philadelphia and at home against the Washington Wizards.

Second-year forward Glen Davis has started nine of the 15 games Garnett missed and is averaging 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in that span. For the season, he's averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds. He had double-doubles in the last two games.

Backup center Mikki Moore has also played more and matched his season highs with 12 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday's 103-84 win over Oklahoma City.

"It's a big adjustment. He's the center of everything," Moore said of Garnett. "He enthuses guys to come out and play hard. We're going to miss his presence out on the floor, but he's always in the locker room or on the sideline out there talking to us. We'll be all right."

Rivers said there's more pressure on the healthy big men to produce with Garnett sidelined and that "may be a reason to cut their minutes a little bit as well. Bottom line is we're going to be healthy when playoffs start and we're going to do whatever we can to have the legs."

But not everyone is convinced that the entire team, including Garnett, will be healthy by then.

"There's always concern," center Kendrick Perkins said. "A guy that has a month off from rest, comes back and he's still not fully recovered, it's still kind of scary. But then again, you're dealing with a warrior, so he'll find a way to get back."