WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics coach Doc River said prior to Thursday's practice that forward Kevin Garnett is seeing improvement in his injured left ankle and could return to action as early as Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards.
"I think he'll be back, maybe as early as Sunday, but I don't know yet," Rivers said. "He's not going to do anything (Thursday). He's doing all the running and stuff in (the weight room) and he'll do some court stuff without the team. And he'll probably participate in the shootaround (Friday), but I'm not going to play him (Friday), even if he wants to play."
Garnett has missed the last seven games due to inflammation in his left ankle, which he originally injured in a March 20 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
Garnett was spotted at the team's practice facility Thursday, exiting the training room to participate in a brief ceremony in which the Celtics honored members of the United States Air Force. Garnett was not wearing a walking boot or any other kind of protective gear.
Pressed if Garnett's condition was indeed improving, Rivers said: "Yeah, he feels good."
With three more games on this homestand (Friday vs. Cleveland, Sunday vs. Washington, and Wednesday vs. Brooklyn), the Celtics have a chance to squeeze in as many as four days of full-team practice (not including valuable shootaround time on game days).
One player that won't be back on the court this season is Rajon Rondo, but Rivers thinks being around the team will help him be a better player when he returns next season.
"I think when you sit and watch, especially at a young age, and you watch how the team functions, you just watch a lot of things," Rivers said earlier Thursday on Boston sports radio WEEI. "[Wednesday] in shootaround, we’re going throughout skeleton offense and he was making comments about how we have to execute better, he could see it. It’s really good. Obviously, I’d rather him play, than him sitting on the sideline, but this can’t hurt you."