WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — Boston Celtics big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins skipped practice with injuries Wednesday, but coach Doc Rivers said he expects both to play in Game 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Garnett has a mild strain in the middle of his right foot and Perkins has a hyperextended right knee. Although both were at the team’s practice facility, neither practiced as the Celtics returned from a day off to begin preparations for Friday night’s game.
“If we had a game today, I don’t think (Garnett) could have played,” Rivers said. “We just have to wait.”
Boston won 104-86 in Cleveland on Monday night in Game 2, tying the series at one game apiece and stealing home-court advantage from the Cavaliers, who finished the regular season with the NBA’s best record. The NBA gave the teams three days off before Game 3, a schedule that the teams complained about at first but is looking better to them now.
“Now it turns out the rest will be good for everybody,” Rivers said, noting that Cavaliers forward LeBron James has an elbow injury. “That’s the way it should be. You want both teams to be healthy. That makes it fair.”
Garnett was not available for comment. Perkins, who said he would have played if there had been a game Wednesday night, was hurt during the pregame shootaround Monday — without any contact.
“I was running, and I guess I was being clumsy,” he said.
Perkins played 31 minutes with the injury on Monday night and scored 10 points with nine rebounds. Garnett was apparently injured with about 3½ minutes left in the game; he stayed in until the Celtics emptied their bench with 41 seconds left.
Rivers said Garnett reported feeling better on Wednesday than he did when he woke up on Tuesday after the flight back from Cleveland. He came to practice to do a limited workout, but Rivers sent him away so he could rest.
“I think time’s on our side,” Rivers said. “I think he’ll be OK.”
Garnett, who will turn 34 this month, never lost more than a handful of games to injury in any season before sitting out 10 games in the middle of 2007-08 with an abdominal strain. He returned and showed no lingering effects as the Celtics went on to win their NBA-record 17th championship.
Last year, Garnett missed most of the last two months of the regular season with strained ligaments and what the team said is an unrelated bone spur in his right knee. Though the Celtics hoped he would return for the playoffs, Rivers announced on the eve of the postseason that Garnett would not be back.
Rivers said Wednesday this was a different situation.
“I think he’ll play,” the coach said. “But I can’t guarantee that right now.”
If Garnett cannot play, Boston would rely increasingly on backups Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Rasheed Wallace. Davis was the primary fill-in when Garnett was injured the past two years, and Wallace was the Celtics’ biggest acquisition last summer.
Wallace, who averaged nine points in about 23 minutes in the regular season, contributed only 21 points total in the first six playoff games before scoring 17 against Cleveland on Monday night.
“‘Sheed is a gamer,” Celtics swingman Paul Pierce said. “We know what he’s capable of. We know he can do it. What better time?”