Pregame notes: Celtics vs. Hawks

BOSTON -- A handful of news and notes as the Celtics prepared to host the Hawks Monday night at the TD Garden:

For more on Kevin Garnett's recovery and Rasheed Wallace's foot injury, see previous posts.

Minutes man

Celtics coach Doc Rivers noted that the most challenging aspect of dealing with injuries and illness is managing minutes for the healthy players left to shoulder the load.

Rivers has been forced to play starters like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and even Rajon Rondo on his sore hamstring, for more minutes than he'd probably like.

"I've been OK with it," said Rivers. "It just seems like, in certain games, [Pierce or Allen] has to play more minutes than we want them to play. And I'm fine with that, because you know later you can buy minutes for them down the road. I'm just happy with the way we're competing. We've had a lot of things thrown at us here in a short stretch -- injuries, illnesses, and the fact that they're coming five minutes before game time. Things like that are far more difficult for our staff and players.

"When you only have 12 players, you're not as deep as in football at times. It's just the size guys... when you lose [Glen Davis] for a stretch, Kevin [Garnett], those are the guys. Heck, even the 3-4-5, those positions really concern you at times. [Marquis Daniels'] injury has forced Paul to do what he did all of last year: guard the best guy ever single night. Those are the things you don't want to happen. But it happens and we grind through.

Marquis recovery on track

Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligmanet in his left thumb last month, engaged in strength and conditioning drills on the court before Monday's game and also dished out some one-handed passes to Shelden Williams.

Daniels remains on pace for a mid-February return, which Rivers indicated remains after the All-Star break.

"I don't think that's changed, but I haven't asked in three weeks," said Rivers. "The last time I checked, that's what they said. I think he'll be ready to play then. A lot of times they say that and they mean that's when the cast comes off. I think he'll be ready to play after the All-Star break."

Not among the elite?

Despite two wins over the Celtics this season, Hawks coach Mike Woodson hesitated to put call his team an elite squad before Monday's game. Woodson stressed his charges are still learning how to win, but that the first victory in Boston certainly gave the Hawks some confidence in themselves.

Despite being inconsistent at times, the Hawks remain just a 1.5 games back of the Orlando Magic in the Southeast Division and Woodson is pressing his troops to work towards the goal of winning a division title.