Danilo Gallinari has eyed a particular time for his return/debut with the Boston Celtics this season.
Gallinari, who joined the Celtics on a two-year deal during the offseason, was brought to Boston as a depth cornerstone in its reserve unit.
Yet, after Gallinari suffered a torn ACL in August when he represented Italy during last summer’s FIBA Eurocup, his Boston tenure has since been delayed. While subjected to sitting courtside alongside teammates, Gallinari has watched the Celtics assemble a league-best 35-14 record through their first 49 games — something the 34-year-old hasn’t grown fond of.
With the NBA All-Star break just around the corner, the Celtics will soon embark on the second half of their campaign. And with much anticipation surrounding Boston’s playoff response following their NBA Finals appearance last season, Gallinari is optimistic about contributing this go-around.
“My mindset is set that I want to play, and that I’m going to play at the end of the season,” Gallinari told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “I want to play in the playoffs. So that’s the mindset that helps me every day get better and motivates me even more.”
As the Celtics have 33 regular season games scheduled left, Gallinari will have to fit a tight window in order to reach his targeted goal of return. An injury of this nature isn’t new to him. Back in 2013, with the Denver Nuggets, Gallinari suffered a left torn ACL which sidelined him for the entirety of the 2013-14 season.
“It really hurts not to be able to help the team in its time of need,” Gallinari tweeted on Wednesday. “Fortunately, we are an incredibly strong team and every misstep is just extra motivation for the next game.”