Kevin Garnett did not look like himself Tuesday, and not just because he was being whistled for a foul roughly every five minutes. The Celtics’ center appeared to be laboring at times, making him a half-step slow and possibly contributing to his foul trouble.
There was indeed something limiting Garnett physically, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday, but it should not be serious enough to keep Garnett out of Game 3 at TD Garden.
“He got hit, not in the hip flexor, but something very similar to a hip pointer in football, and it was affecting him,” Rivers said in a conference call. “I was worried it was something that was bothering him, that he had pulled a stomach muscle or something, and I kept asking if he was good. But he’s good to go.”
Garnett picked up two fouls early in the first quarter on Tuesday and battled foul trouble the rest of the game. He finished with five fouls for the second time in the series, and his prolonged absences had a significant impact on the Celtics at both ends of the court. Since the Celtics do not have the depth up front the Knicks enjoy with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin, Rivers said the Celtics need to cut down on Raymond Felton‘s dribble penetration and defend the Knicks’ pick and roll better to keep Garnett out of compromised positions.
“We’ve got to protect him better, clearly, and the best way to do that is to keep him on good matchups,” Rivers said. “I thought the first three fouls he had were from bad matchups.”