Kevin Garnett could be back in the Nets' lineup as early as Saturday. The team announced Sunday that he has targeted one of three games from April 5-9 for his comeback.
The Nets also announced that forward Andrei Kirilenko is targeting the middle of the week for his return, meaning he could face the Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Garnett, who has been suffering from back spasms, missed his 16th straight game Sunday night. He hopes to return Saturday against Philadelphia, April 8 at Miami or April 9 at Orlando.
Garnett originally hurt his back Feb. 27 in Denver. The Nets, however, have managed to adjust in his absence and are 12-4 without Garnett.
Still, Nets coach Jason Kidd said Garnett's impact on the team, both on and off the court, can't be underestimated. Garnett, 37, initially struggled after joining the Nets this season, but since Jan. 1, he is shooting 57 percent and has been the team's emotional leader on defense.
"It's huge. He's the glue," Kidd said. "From day one, his voice, his work ethic, his being professional, he's never wavered when things were bad. He just continued to keep working. I think that was what his teammates saw on a daily basis and they just followed suit. Once it turned, guys just continued to keep working. He's been a great role model in that locker room, great leadership and voice. On and off the floor, he's been a big part of our success."
Injuries, primarily back spasms, have limited Kirilenko to 37 games this season. He missed his fifth straight game Sunday night with a sprained left ankle.