Celtics practice with full starting five

Updated: January 16, 2011, 7:27 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and center Kendrick Perkins participated fully in Sunday's practice, marking the first time this season that Boston's familiar starting five were reunited with both Garnett and Perkins back on the floor alongside Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.

It was a morale boost for the injury-plagued squad.

"You could just see it with our first unit -- today was the first time this year we had our real first unit on the floor," coach Doc Rivers said. "Offensively and defensively, it was just another level. They could run anything they wanted because everyone knew where everyone else was at."

Garnett
Garnett

While Rivers said it was likely Garnett would be in uniform for Monday's game against the Orlando Magic, Rivers also suggested the team will wait to see how he responds to the session before making a final decision on his status.

"I think Kevin will go [Monday], but again, we went through practice to see if he can play," Rivers said. "Meaning, we'll know after practice now. If he looks good, he'll go; if he doesn't, if there's anything, he will not go. I'd probably put it back to 50/50. He went up and down a little harder on purpose, just to see how his body felt. If he feels good, he'll play. If he doesn't, even if it's just a little, we'll keep him out."

Garnett has missed nine games after suffering a strained right calf in a loss to the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 29. He returned to the practice court Thursday, going through about half the team's session, but both Garnett and Rivers suggested he needed another session before diving back into game action.

Kendrick Perkins

Perkins

The injury-depleted Celtics could use Garnett, especially with a fresh batch of bumps and bruises following Sunday's session.

Center Shaquille O'Neal suffered what the team termed a right adductor strain after slipping on some ice on his way to the team's practice facility. Meanwhile, Rivers said reserve swingman Marquis Daniels suffered a stinger in his back when running into a Perkins screen at practice and had to sit out the remainder of the session.

Both O'Neal and Daniels are day to day. Daniels got some extra shots up after practice and deemed himself ready for Monday's contest.

"Perk welcomed me back," Daniels joked after Perkins returned to full-team, full-contact exercises and leveled him with a screen during five-on-five work. "I'm all right though."

Perkins admitted to being a little winded during his first full-team session since tearing his right ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June. He was just happy to be back alongside his teammates and, while joking he'd be ready to suit up for his injury-depleted team Monday, Perkins said he's targeting a return when the Dallas Mavericks visit TD Garden on Feb. 4.

"I could probably come back before then, but I think we're on the road and I kind of want to make my first game at home," Perkins said.

Perkins looked so good that the Celtics might be tempted to move that date up. Fortunately, they exercise extreme caution with injuries, as exemplified by Garnett.

"Perk went through the whole practice," Rivers said. "Hell, he looked the best. I could make the case for playing him tomorrow as much as anybody. He won't play, obviously, but this was the first day for Perk live and he was phenomenal."

Perkins joked, "The coaches told me I might have to give them 15 minutes [Monday]. I could probably give them 25 and be all right."

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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