- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley did not participate in contact activities during the team's off-day practice session on Saturday, but coach Doc Rivers said he is expected to be available for Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards.
While the Celtics got reinforcements Saturday as veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned to the practice floor, Bradley was forced to the sideline after bruising his collarbone while absorbing an elbow from Kyrie Irving during Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I don’t think Avery will practice, just because of his [collarbone], but I think he’ll be able to play [Sunday]," said Rivers, who later playfully added, "He’s going to do film and walk-through, but he’s not going to go through any contact. We want to keep him away from [Shavlik Randolph], make sure Shav doesn’t take him out."
Garnett has missed the last eight games due to left ankle inflammation, but went through his first full-team activity in two weeks on Saturday with the goal of determining when he might be able to return to game action (it could be as early as Sunday). Pierce, who tweaked a sore right ankle in Wednesday's win over the Detroit Pistons, sat out Friday's game against Cleveland and was likewise using Saturday's session to gauge his ability to play Sunday.
The Celtics are trying to keep Milwaukee at arm's length and secure the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, but Rivers admitted there's a careful balance between winning games and keeping guys healthy.
"Health is always the most important," said Rivers. "I think that’s important for every team that’s playing. But you want to win, too. Wins are very important to us, and unfortunately for us, and a couple other teams -- San Antonio being one of them -- it’s tough to do both. But I would choose wins all the time, except for, it’s not like we’re resting Paul or Kevin, there's nothing you can do about it."
Read on for a few more notes from Saturday's pre-practice access, including Jordan Crawford's NBA amnesia and trying to fix Boston's transition defense:
* CRAWFORD ON WIZARDS: 'WHO?': Celtics guard Jordan Crawford will play his former team for the first time on Sunday after being traded to Boston at February's deadline. He feigned NBA amnesia on Saturday. "Who? I don’t recall playing for Washington," he said. Follow-up responses were met with, "What game? It’s just another game."
* KG NEEDS REPS: Asked if Garnett needed game reps to shake the rust from two weeks of inactivity, Rivers noted, "I’ve always said that. Kevin’s a systematic player -- he’s like [Patrick] Ewing in a lot of ways, when I played with Patrick. Patrick was worse. If Patrick didn’t practice, he was going to be awful in the game. Kevin can not practice and still play. Patrick, it was amazing. Some guys and a lot of the great ones are that way, because they get in their routine. And once they get out of their routine, it takes them a little bit to get back into it."
* DEFENSE NEEDS WORK: While Garnett's return is expected to fix a lot of the woes that Boston has exhibited without him on the defensive end, Rivers said the rest of the team has still displayed far too much slippage for his liking. " I don’t think it’s all Kevin, [but] I would love that. That’d be great, because then when Kevin plays, then that’s all gone," said Rivers. "That’s not going to happen. Our transition defense [Friday] night was horrendous, and that had nothing to do with Kevin. That was guys getting back or loading to the ball. They got a lot of transition points on us... Those are things that Kevin can be there, but if the other guys don’t do it, they’ll still score."
14dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford