- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the New York Knicks Wednesday night in a St. Patrick's Day showdown at the TD Garden:
The rundown (a quick look at the pregame headlines)
* Walker to start; Giddens off bench for Knicks
* Giddens (knee) cleared to play; House (foot) day-to-day
* Pierce appears ready to go
Walker to start; Giddens off bench for Knicks
What a difference a month makes.
Bill Walker could hardly get off the Boston bench this time last month before becoming a bit of collateral damage when the Celtics traded Eddie House to the New Yorks Knicks in a five-player swap that netted Nate Robinson at the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 18.
On Wednesday night, Walker drew a start against his former team, earning a spot in part because of injuries, but also because of his performance since being given a chance to showcase his skills in New York. Walker is averaging 12.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists over 27 minutes per game in March. He's posted four 21-plus point games this month, while the Celtics have had their leading scorer reach that mark just three times in March.
"A 360-degree turn," said Walker, shaking his head as he reflected on his rapid rise with the Knicks. "Going from their bench and not getting off of it, to starting for another team."
Walker said he has no hard feelings toward Boston and knew the odds of him getting playing time were long with the talent in front of him. But the Knicks like what they see and there's a good chance he could be back as part of New York's young nucleus they hope to surround by a couple of big-name free agents.
"We just like his talent," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. "He's very explosive. He has a nice feel for the game, which surprised me. He knows how to play and it's up to him to work this summer, get his body in shape. It's up to him now, but he definitely has the talent to play."
J.R. Giddens, who was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery when he was traded by the Celtics in the five-player deal with New York, was cleared to play for the first time Wednesday and is expected to log some minutes despite not having practiced with the team yet.
What's he expecting?
"I just got cleared to play, I haven't even practiced," said Giddens. "I'm just trying to run and play hard, show people I belong and that I can help them win games."
Eddie House, the key component in that swap, will miss Wednesday's game with a foot injury. He's day-to-day, but made the trip and visited the Celtics' locker room before the game, spending a few minutes with Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.
"He's been battling it for a while," D'Antoni said of House and his injured foot. "Eddie needs his speed, that’s what he lives by, and when his feet are hurting, it's hard to play. When he's feeling well, he'll be back."
In case you were worried about Paul Pierce, who returned to the locker room early in the first half Monday night against the Pistons and didn't appear at the postgame press conference, he was on the court in uniform playing a little 1-on-1 against Brian Scalabrine (click the link for a quick video). Pierce was in the starting lineup and it does not appear the injury is anything to worry about.
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