Lee and Garnett both missed practice yesterday.
The health problems are the latest in a string of injuries that already have sidelined guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa and forward Jared Sullinger for the season. Barbosa was traded to the Washington Wizards after being hurt.
“Kevin went down and Courtney Lee going down, sometimes it kind of wears on you mentally because that’s pretty much how the season has gone for us,” Paul Pierce said. “Some way, somehow we’ve got to pick ourselves back up. It’s been kind of devastating with the injuries so far, but we’ve got to find a way to persevere and fight through it.”
Today’s game could be a preview of a first-round playoff series, and Pierce thinks beating the Knicks today or Sunday — or both — could send a message.
“You get a chance to beat them a couple of more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs and so that’s got to be a little extra motivation,” Pierce said. “They’ve been playing well all year long. They’re on top of the Atlantic Division. But right now it’s about heading to the playoffs, picking up the pace.”
The Knicks (42-26) have won their last four games after losing four in a row. The Celtics (36-33) have dropped their last four, matching their second longest losing streak of the season. Boston has struggled on defense and Garnett’s absence won’t help. In three of the last four games, opponents have shot better than 43.9 percent, the Celtics’ field-goal defense for the season.
Rivers knew that Garnett’s absence vs. Memphis was going to be a problem, especially since it was Boston’s second game in as many nights.
“Back-to-back (games), no Kevin, no Courtney, a lot of new guys that were going to play,” he said. “As a coach, you’re just trying to find a way to win.”