Celtics coach Doc Rivers offered Kevin Garnett, the 36-year-old center who will be taking part in his 15th All-Star game this weekend, a chance to sit out the game against the Bulls to get some much-needed rest. As much as Garnett admitted he could use the respite, one look around the locker room made him respectfully decline his coach’s offer.
“I should’ve taken that [expletive],” Garnett said after a relatively short night of only 26 minutes in the 71-69 win. “But I’m seeing everybody in here playing through everything. I’m not different from that. Paul [Pierce is] tired, everybody’s tired. No one’s full of energy right now. I felt like that was unfair.”
The Celtics are already playing without Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, who all suffered season-ending injuries in the last three weeks. A home-and-road back-to-back set earlier this week, which included a triple-overtime victory over the Nuggets, left every player mentally and physically spent for the final regular-season game before the All-Star break.
“[Rivers] wasn’t giving everybody the night off, so that wasn’t an option,” Garnett said. “I just came out and gave all I could. I played hard, like always. I started out the game pretty static, had to get my legs under me a bit, but nobody in this league at this point of the season is playing 100 percent. That includes me, guys in this locker room and in other locker rooms. I just figured I’d fight through it and play.”
Garnett gets two days off and one day of travel to Houston, where he will start at center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Sunday. He says this All-Star game will be his last.