MIAMI - When asked how long Kevin Garnett's strained abdominal muscle could keep him sidelined, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't have an exact answer.
"You know Doc's a nickname, correct?" deadpanned the coach, whose given name is Glenn.
Too bad. The Celtics could probably use an extra doctor these days.
Garnett's injury kept him out again and Ray Allen was sidelined with the flu Tuesday night when the NBA-leading Celtics visited the Miami Heat.
The decision to not play Garnett was announced in the morning shootaround; Allen's illness — part of a bug that's gone around the team for about a week, Rivers said — was revealed about 90 minutes before tip-off.
"Somebody has to pick it up," Rivers said. "Nobody's going to be Kevin Garnett tonight. Nobody's going to be Ray Allen."
Brian Scalabrine started in Garnett's place and Tony Allen took Allen's starting spot Tuesday for the Celtics, who entered the game with a 34-8 record and a three-game lead over New Orleans in the race for the NBA's best record.
Garnett also sat out Sunday's 96-93 loss in Orlando because of the muscle problem, which he suffered in Friday's home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rivers said he chose to give Garnett another game off to ensure that what seems now like a minor injury doesn't turn into a major problem.
"He always wants to play, which is good," Rivers said. "But he understands it's the right thing for the team."
It was the second straight game Boston played without Garnett, its second-leading scorer (19.2) and leading rebounder (9.9).
"It's not like this is a hard decision," Rivers said.
Garnett strained the muscle last Friday in Boston's one-point home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and apparently lobbied Rivers to play Sunday when Boston visited the Orlando Magic. He told Boston reporters that if he could "blink" or "wake up," then he would deem himself ready to play.
Rivers didn't necessarily agree, although he did acknowledge that if these games were of major importance — like a playoff game — then Garnett would likely be playing with the injury.
"But I don't know if he could play well," Rivers said. "And I don't know if he did play if he wouldn't get hurt."
It's unclear if Garnett will play Thursday when Boston hosts the Dallas Mavericks.
"If he can play Thursday, we'll play him," Rivers said. "But again, it's got to be almost 100 percent. That's the way I look at those types of injuries."
Allen's status for Thursday is also unknown.
"Every team goes through it," Rivers said. "We just have to keep working every day and improving as a team and understanding where we're trying to go."