NEW YORK -- News and notes from the Christmas Day pregame at MSG:
* PIERCE A NO-GO: Paul Pierce looked festive and snappy in a blue, pin-striped suit, blue shirt and red tie as he arrived at the Celtics locker room some 100 minutes before tip-off.
Unfortunately for him and the team, that was his wardrobe of necessity, as his bruised right heel kept him out of the 2011-12 season opener against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
”Everyone understands how competitive I am,’’ Pierce said before the game. “It’s Christmas. It’s Madison Square Garden. If there was the slightest chance I could play, I’d definitely be out there. But I have to look at the long term.”
Pierce said he planned to accompany the team on the trip to Miami and New Orleans, but would not say if he felt improved enough to make a commitment to either game. He has had only one practice since training camp opened.
“Still day to day,’’ he said. He encouraged everyone to “Google bone bruise” to check what his status might be. Asked if he planned to practice Monday, Pierce said, “I’m not sure. I’ll just wake up and see how it feels. It’s been improving, week by week. If it was a regular bruise, it’d be a couple days. But it’s a bone bruise on a place where I have to walk every day and have to apply pressure every day just by walking. Maybe it slows down the healing process.”
* PAVLOVIC STARTS: Coach Doc Rivers elected to start Sasha Pavlovic in Pierce’s place. “I wanted to try and keep our bench intact at the start of the season. I think benches are going to be really important. It’s a new bench and the more we can keep them together, the better. The other part of that is if we thought Paul was going to be out a long time, we would start Marquis (Daniels), but we don’t.”
Rivers said Pierce didn’t do any practice work on Saturday and he said he is hopeful Pierce can play on the rest of the trip.
“We’re hoping Tuesday. But we don’t know. Even if he does, I don’t know if I’d start him. He’s had one practice this year so I don’t think I’d want to throw him out and start him. When he comes back, we’ll throw him in there. We’ll see.” Pavlovic started the second exhibition game against Toronto.
* PIETRUS ETA: Rivers said he thought new addition Mikeal Pietrus might be able to join the team on the trip, which features games Tuesday in Miami and Wednesday in New Orleans. Pietrus is scheduled to have his physical Monday in Boston.
Before Rivers spoke, however, public relations director Jeff Twiss, relaying word from general manager Danny Ainge, said that Pietrus is not expected to join the team on the trip and will instead be planning to make his debut in Boston on Friday night. Pierce said he liked the addition of the athletic, versatile wingman, who was waived by the Suns and signed on Christmas Eve by the Celtics.
“I think he’ll be a great addition. You look at the Eastern Conference with a plethora of great wing players, it’s nice to have another guy you can add to the mix who’s a pretty good defender and can knock down three-pointers.”