For the past few weeks, the Brooklyn Nets have been without the services of veteran big man Kevin Garnett, out since February 27 with a hurt back. After planning on returning for March 10's home game against the Toronto Raptors before becoming a late scratch, it's unclear exactly when Garnett will return to the court. While the Nets have performed quite well in his absence with an 8-2 record, it figures that Brooklyn wants KG back as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, that return date remains uncertain. Speaking to reporters for the first time in three weeks on Thursday, Garnett said that there's no timetable for his recovery. From Tim Bontemps for the New York Post:
“Very [frustrating],” Garnett said following Thursday’s practice at the Nets’ practice facility. “But it’s a world in which I haven’t been a part of. I’d like to think that I’ve been known for my strong back and shoulders, but it is what it is, and I’m just trying to be a student of all of it, but at the same time being smart with everything, too.” [...]
“These last five days I’m feeling better,” he said. “[I’m] looking forward to getting back out there. Not going to go into details and specifics, but just know that I’m getting stronger, the process is going very well.
“I had a bit of a setback when I tried to come back the other night [against Toronto], but other than that I’ve been getting stronger ever since. We’re working on some different dynamics, and it’s working for me and I look [forward] to being out [there] soon.”
Garnett has already been ruled out for Friday's home game against the Boston Celtics, the team that traded him to Brooklyn last summer. With the fifth-place Nets battling for playoff position and presumably hoping to avoid a matchup with the Toronto Raptors or Chicago Bulls, playing these next few weeks without Garnett could put them at a real disadvantage.
At the same time, it might not be the biggest hassle in the world. The Nets have excelled with Garnett out in part because replacement starter Mason Plumlee and reserve Andray Blatche have performed much better than during previous KG absences, particularly on defense. In fact, it's possible that losing Garnett for this period will make the Nets a stronger team in the postseason, one with more faith in its bench and the ability to rest their aging defensive linchpin without suffering as much of a drop in effectiveness.
The postseason is a different animal, of course, and it figures that the Nets will need Garnett to advance past the first round. For now, though, a short delay in his return looks like a workable problem.
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