Pregame: Pierce playing through pain
BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that Paul Pierce will attempt to play through the pain of a sprained MCL in his left knee, but is uncertain how the team will compensate if it continues to be a hindrance to the team captain.
"Honestly, it’s not the best situation, but he’s going to play," said Rivers. "We just gotta figure out what he can do on the floor. It’s tough. He’s a scorer, and I think Paul can score in any situation, but for us, we just have to figure out what the most effective way for him to be effective. And the only way we’re going to know that is with the game being played. So we’ll see."
Pierce suffered the injury on Sunday after tripping over a teammate's foot in a shootaround before Game 4, then aggravated the ailment while banging knees with Josh Smith that same night. Pierce played through pain to score 24 points over 16½ minutes in Game 4, but really labored after the first quarter in Game 5. Rivers admitted the knee hasn't shown much improvement since then.
"He said he had a little more life, just energy wise, but the knee feels the same way," said Rivers.
And Rivers admitted it could get worse.
"There’s always that possibility -- when you sprain anything, especially a knee, the possibility that it could get worse is absolutely there," said Rivers.
Pierce wasn't able to get to the basket in Tuesday's Game 5 loss and that prevented him, too, from getting to the free throw line. Rivers said the team has to find other ways to generate scoring if Pierce is limited again.
"Well, he’s not going to get to the line as much, we know that, that’s just what it is," said Rivers. "So we have to create other ways -- get Kevin (Garnett) in the post more, (but) they are trapping him more, so it’s tough for him to get to the line as well. But (Pierce's injury) clearly takes something away from us, and we just have to find other ways to score."
A few more notes from pregame:
* Hawks coach Larry Drew said injured center Zaza Pachulia (sprained left foot) went through shootaround Thursday, but will not play in Game 6.
* When the Hawks shifted their lineup before Game 5 to move Joe Johnson to shooting guard, Rivers considered countering to negate the height advantage Johnson owns over Avery Bradley, but elected not to, in part to maintain Bradley's confidence as a starter. "We thought about it, but Avery’s a young kid, even if we have to make a move early, we’d rather do that than take him out of the lineup," said Rivers.
* Rivers said he wasn't certain what was causing Mickael Pietrus' shooting woes in this opening-round series. "I really don’t know. We need him, we need him to play well tonight," said Rivers. "I don’t know if (injuries are) the reason. Shots are just not going in right now. I think when your shot doesn’t go in and you’re not (an elite) player, your confidence obviously struggles a little bit. I think he’s going through that some as well."
* Rivers on using more Ryan Hollins than rookie Greg Stiemsma at center in recent games: "(Hollins) is playing better; It’s a competition. Always. And Ryan is playing terrific for us. Ryan’s minutes, on the floor with Kevin, are unbelievable. When you put him and Kevin on the floor at the same time, that’s our best defensive team. That’s good for us."
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