The Brooklyn Nets will face off with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, which would potentially be Kevin Garnett facing off with the team that he started his illustrious NBA career with. However, it will instead be the 16th consecutive game that Garnett will miss for the Nets heading down the home stretch of the regular season.
The 37-year-old Garnett has been saddled with a minutes-restriction for the entirety of this season, but that hasn’t stopped back spasms from popping up lately and keeping him out of action for the last month or so. The curious part, though, is that there really doesn’t seem to be a return date in sight for the legendary big man.
Prior to their win on Friday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News talked to Nets head coach Jason Kidd. Kidd indicated that he didn’t know when Garnett would return, but hinted that the big man could possibly not return in the regular season. Kidd also added that he was confident that Garnett would be ready for the playoffs whether he returned in the regular season or not.
After getting off to an abysmal start this year, Garnett started to turn things around relatively dramatically once he started seeing more minutes at the center position. It’s no coincidence that his individual turnaround started to happen the same time as the Nets started to get going and pave their path to the postseason.
While you have to worry about him being in game-shape if he doesn’t return for the regular season, you also can’t fault Brooklyn for being cautious with Garnett leading into the postseason. His veteran leadership and defensive presence on the interior are going to be vital to the Nets’ chances in the playoffs. This team needs a player who is going to keep them focused and intense on both ends of the floor and Garnett is certainly a guy who can achieve that. It’s definitely an unusual situation with his back injury right now, but the Nets seem to be playing it right.