Danilo Gallinari has eyed a particular time for his debut with the Boston Celtics.
Gallinari, who joined the Celtics on a two-year deal during the offseason, was expected to be a depth piece for Boston’s reserve unit. However, Gallinari suffered a torn ACL in August when he represented Italy during the FIBA Eurocup. He’s since watched the Celtics assemble a league-best 35-14 record, though it’s not something the 34-year-old has grown fond of.
With the NBA All-Star break just around the corner, the Celtics will soon start the second half of the season. And with much anticipation about Boston’s playoff chances, Gallinari remains optimistic about contributing this spring.
“My mindset is set that I want to play, and that I’m going to play at the end of the season,” Gallinari told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “I want to play in the playoffs. So that’s the mindset that helps me every day get better and motivates me even more.”
With the Celtics having 33 regular-season games left, Gallinari will have to recover in a tight window in order to reach his target date.
“It really hurts not to be able to help the team in its time of need,” Gallinari tweeted on Wednesday. “Fortunately, we are an incredibly strong team and every misstep is just extra motivation for the next game.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has emphasized the importance of depth and bench scoring. It’s why Boston targeted Gallinari this offseason. With the Atlanta Hawks last season, he shot 38.1% from beyond the arc and averaged 11.7 points in 66 games.
Gallinari mentioned that he doesn’t have a negative outlook on how his first year in Boston transpired. Instead, he’s used the setback as motivation to move forward.
“My mindset is there is definitely a chance,” Gallinari told Himmelsbach. “So when I think about the season, it’s definitely not a lost season for me. So, we’ll see. That’s the mindset that helps me and pushes me to get better every day. If it happens, it’s going to be great. If it doesn’t, I’m looking forward to next season.”