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Magic Vs. Celtics: Kevin Garnett Expected To Return As Boston Hosts Orlando

Kevin Garnett is expected to return to action as the Boston Celtics host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in a possible playoff preview Monday at the TD Garden (8 p.m. EST; TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI).

However, if Garnett shows any signs of ailment, he will be wearing street clothes for the tenth straight game (via CelticsBlog).

Kevin Garnett is likely to play tonight after participating in a full practice yesterday.  Though Doc cautions that they will take a cautious approach before gametime.

Green-lighting Kevin Garnett -

"I would probably put it back to 50-50, because we 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 a little - he will not play."

Boston (30-9) defeated Charlotte, 99-94, in its previous contest on Friday. Shaquille O'Neal paced the Celtics with a game-high 23 points and had five rebounds and five blocks while both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce added 19 points.

Rajon Rondo also had a strong outing, totaling 18 points and 13 assists in the victory. Boston's win was even more impressive, considering that they were missing emotional leader Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal. Nevertheless, Shaq was ready to step up if needed.

"I knew that whatever happened I was going to be ready," said O'Neal, who played a season-high 35 minutes. "I've been in foul trouble and haven't really played a lot of minutes so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I do." (via SB Nation/Sports Network)

O'Neal is now averaging 10 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 30 games this season. Unfortunately, the Celtics will be without the Big Shamrock when they take on the Magic, as O'Neal slipped and fell on the ice over the weekend.

The Celtics will also be without the services of big men Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins. O'Neal has been tossing around the idea of knee surgery, which would end his season. As for Perkins, who continues to make progress in his recovery from a right knee injury in the 2010 NBA Finals, he may be close to making his return (via CelticsBlog).

On a more positive note, Kendrick Perkins continues to show progress and has set a return date for Feb. 4.

First contact: Kendrick Perkins goes live with Celtics -

"I'm trying to return on the Dallas game," he said. "That's the expected date. (The doctors) said that's cool. "I probably could come back before then, but I think we're going to be on the road. I kind of want to make my first game a home game."

Paul Pierce is Boston's top scorer, averaging 19.2 points. Ray Allen is averaging 17.5 points, Garnett averages 15 points and 9.5 rebounds and up-and-coming sixth man Glen Davis averages 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Orlando (26-14) has won three straight meetings and six of the last seven regular-season games against the Celtics. The Magic are coming off a 108-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.

Jason Richardson and J.J. Reddick each scored 21 points to pace Orlando. Howard finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and Gilbert Arenas added seven points and seven assists off the bench.

Howard is Orlando's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 21.7 points and 13.3 rebounds. Richardson is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.3 points. Jameer Nelson has also been a solid contributor for the Magic, averaging 13.1 points and 6.7 assists.