Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green has probably been racking his brain the past two weeks, desperately trying to retrace the steps he took on March 18.
That was the night that his Celtics nearly stopped the streaking Heat at 22 games, thanks in no small part to Green's best Boston performance. He erupted for a career-high 43 points on an efficient 14-of-21 shooting night from the field.
While the Celtics ultimately squandered a 13-point lead in the game's final nine minutes, they did show flashes of just how dangerous they could be come playoff time.
But if Boston (37-34) can shake off an unimpressive regular season and redefine itself in the postseason, it may be doing so without some familiar faces.
Rajon Rondo won't be suiting up again this season, but the Celtics have known that for a while now. What they don't know is the health of 36-year-old Kevin Garnett. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge guessed that ankle inflammation will keep Garnett sidelined for two weeks (according to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com) in what was anything but an official timetable.
Garnett knows his best days are behind him and said that he'll handle his career on a year-to-year basis (via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports). He mulled retirement over the summer (via Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com) before returning to the team on a three-year contract that he may or may not play out.
Why does any of this matter? Because when coupled with Ainge's uncertainty, it does not paint the brightest picture about Garnett's ability to return to the floor with the same kind of spark he's given the team all season. ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan reminded the basketball world that a vague, underexaggerated Garnett injury wound up costing him the entire 2009 postseason.
MacMullan wasn't saying that Garnett won't ever return to the floor this season, but rather saying what Celtics fans may be forced to confront—we don't know how serious the injury is and we don't know if/how it will affect him in the postseason.
Without a healthy Garnett, the Celtics have no shot of stopping the Heat. Garnett doesn't have the legs to be an intimidating shot-blocker (0.9 blocks per game), but his basketball IQ helps him close off driving lanes and put himself in prime rebounding position. He's also comfortable operating away from the basket, something he'll have to do in a potential matchup with Chris Bosh.
If Garnett is healthy, though, this is still the majority of a Celtics team that already defeated the Heat once this season and came within two points of doing it again.
Then again, this is also the same Celtics team that has now lost five of its last six games.
Boston's Upset Chance: 20 percent