Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Paul Pierce will start against the Mavericks, one day after banging his right knee, which was drained twice last month, during a collision with Shelden Williams at practice.
"He's going to start," Rivers said after a dramatic pause. "He's OK, really. It looked bad, obviously, but he's fine.
"It's just a ding. We've still got to get [the knee] stronger, obviously, but that'll just take some time."
Pressed if Pierce was playing at less than 100 percent, especially with the Celtics' ongoing battle with injuries, Rivers conceded that was true.
"Playing is not going to hurt him," said Rivers. "We've got to keep strengthening that knee so he can get back to playing at that 100-percent level."
Just in case anyone inside the Celtics' locker room wasn't certain, Rasheed Wallace hollered, "I'm back!" while joking around with Glen Davis -- the two conspiring to annoy Ray Allen as he tried to hold court with the media -- before Monday's game.
Wallace will start and is expected to draw a tough matchup opposite Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki.
"Well, it's big [to get Wallace back], because we need him against Dirk -- we need a lot of bodies against Dirk," said Rivers. "I don't know if this is the perfect game for him to come back -- to come back to play Dirk, that's a tall order for him. But that's the order we have to follow through with. I'd rather have him than not."
Inside the Celtics' locker room, Marquis Daniels had some fun with Wallace, running up in front of him as he walked toward the shower area and pretending to stomp on his injured left forefoot.
During a recent practice, Wallace had been teasing the injured Daniels (torn ligament in left thumb) and questioning whether he'd ever come back. Daniels is scheduled to be back after the All-Star break.
Wallace missed three games with the sore foot. He said the injury occurred as much as two weeks ago, but really swelled after a win over Toronto last Sunday, forcing him to the bench for rest.
Speaking of Daniels ...
Quizzed about his team's ability to build toward the postseason with its many injuries, Rivers admitted his charges are just sort of "hanging in there and not improving because of the injuries." Rivers pointed to the importance of getting a healthy Daniels back.
"He might be the most important part, not just for Marquis, but for Paul not to have to guard the best guy, and really for that second unit, for [Daniels] to get back to handling the ball," said Rivers. "The timing of that, with Rasheed and Eddie [House], it's really important."
Rivers said that, as has been the Celtics' mantra this season, he will not rush Daniels back after surgery in December to repair the torn ligament.
"With that hand, we're going to be careful," said Rivers. "If he takes it off and there's still pain of any kind, we're not going to let him play, because we know where that leads. If someone hits him -- and someone is going to hit him -- that's what we would do [during Rivers' playing days]. They're nicer now and they don't do things like that."
The 32-year-old Marbury will play in the Chinese Basketball Association after he agreed to join the league's Shanxi club. He spent the end of last season with the Celtics and both Rivers and Ray Allen said they felt he had more basketball in him.
"I did not think he was done," said Rivers. "I thought someone would actually pick him up this summer. Honestly, that Web broadcast didn't help his cause at all. But I hope someone does pick him up. I think he's going over there probably to prove that he can play."
Echoed Allen: "If he goes over there and shows what he did here, then I don't think his time in the [NBA] is done."
Rivers was reminded that Marbury might have an interest in expanding his sneaker brand to a new market by going overseas.
"He's a business man, right?" said Rivers. "If he sell shoes, that's not a bad thing."
Barea in Boston
Mavericks guard Jose Juan Barea, a former standout at Northeastern University, spent some time chatting with the media about finding his role on one of the top teams in the Western Conference.