WALTHAM, Mass. – Kevin Garnett(notes) had already finished answering questions about his elbow, his suspension, Quentin Richardson(notes), Danny Ainge's TV viewing habits and a couple other assorted topics when he decided to leave reporters with one final salvo.
Garnett's elbow to Richardson's jaw has become the "Shot Heard 'Round the NBA" or, at least, heard by opposing big men who already didn't like K.G. Noah quickly used the incident as an opportunity to call Garnett a "dirty player." Injured Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut(notes) also weighed in via Twitter: "Geeee i wonder who started the little scuffle in the miami boston game hmmmm?"
All that matters to the Celtics is this: Garnett's elbow earned him a suspension from the league and will keep him out of Game 2 of the Celtics' first-round series against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't specify who he plans to start in Garnett's place, but point guard Rajon Rondo(notes) expects it to be Glen Davis(notes).
Garnett wasn't surprised by the suspension, which resulted from him elbowing Richardson in the jaw during a scrum that started after Celtics forward Paul Pierce(notes) fell in front of the Heat's bench late in Game 1. Garnett was upset that Richardson was taunting Pierce. Richardson later said he didn't consider the injury to be serious and called both Pierce and Garnett "actresses."
"Obviously, I want all of this to be over with," Garnett said. "The message here is that whoever it is, my teammates, Doc Rivers, anybody in this organization, I want them to know I got their backs. My elbow wasn't deliberate. But the league does what it has to do to set a tone and I respect [that] and now it's time to move on and get back to a wonderful series."
Richardson received a $25,000 fine for his role in the incident, but Rivers thought he should have been suspended for being the "agitator."
"I accept Kevin being suspended," Rivers said. "If you're going to go by the letter of the law, you kind of knew how it was going to go. But I really think if we are going to stop fights, you got to suspend the agitators, too. I think right now, the agitator gets fined. The retaliator is getting suspended in all these incidents. And until they stop the agitator and fine them both, I think we are going to continue to have these things. It only benefits the agitator."
Garnett cannot be at the arena during Game 2 and plans on watching it at the home of Ainge, the Celtics' president. "That's going to be an experience," Garnett said. "Danny talks through the whole [expletive] game. So we'll see. Trying to take some pluses out of all of this."
If there is any positive for the Celtics, it's that Garnett should be well-rested before Game 3 on Friday in Miami. Garnett will be playing just his second game in 10 days, which should benefit his sore right knee which has continued to give him problems.
"I'm glad that he's resting a little bit," Rasheed Wallace(notes) said. "I hate that it had to happen like this, but Kev needs to rest a little bit. It's a long haul right here. He's been going hard all season without really much of a break except here and there. So for us to go out there and get this win without him, that would say a lot about our ballclub. That's saying guys are ready to step up and do what they're supposed to do."
The Celtics have beaten the Heat in all four of the teams' meetings this season, including a Jan. 6 overtime victory in which Garnett didn't play. Wallace had 16 points and nine rebounds that game.
"Rasheed was terrific in that game," Rivers said. "It's funny you have Kevin out and we have played them one time without Kevin, and we did well. It gives us a little bit of confidence. But it's a whole different game now. It's played at a higher level than that game was played."
The Celtics went 6-7 in games without Garnett this season. He had a solid performance in the opening game of the playoff series with 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and a block while helping limit Heat forward Michael Beasley(notes) to six points.
Regardless of who starts, Davis and Wallace should both have bigger roles while helping replace Garnett in Game 2. Davis sounded excited about the opportunity. He earned the nickname "Ticket Stub" for his previous work filling in for Garnett, who is known as "Big Ticket."
"The ‘Ticket Stub,' he'll be ready," Davis said. "I just can't wait to help them. The ‘Ticket Stub' loves to fill big shoes."