Paul Pierce (sprained thumb, flu) and Marquis Daniels (illness) both sat out Wednesday's practice session and their status for Thursday's game against the Cavaliers remains very much in the air, according to coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers suggested that Pierce is almost certain to be held out, though he didn't rule out a potential return if the thumb improved dramatically overnight, while Daniels looked so haggard, he was sent home from Wednesday's session.
"He looked terrible today, so we sent Marquis home," said Rivers. "He looked awful. We’ll see tomorrow. If [Pierce and Daniels can't play], I have no idea right now. We’ll figure it out."
Regarding Pierce, Rivers added: "I'm not going to say definitely, but most likely not [Thursday]. We'll just evaluate it day to day. We didn't want to take the chance of him getting hit on his thumb in practice, so that if he feels good [Thursday], he can go. If not, we'll wait. We've got [games] Thursday and then Saturday, then a two-day break, so we'll just go a game at a time."
Pierce sprained his right thumb in the first half of a win over the Lakers last Thursday. He sat out Tuesday's game against the Knicks to allow the injury time to heal, while also enduring a bout with the flu. Daniels started in place of Pierce Tuesday, scoring 14 points, including a pivotal layup in the final minutes to seal a 110-106 triumph at the TD Garden.
The absence of Pierce and Daniels is troubling as the Celtics don't boast much depth at the 3 -- Ray Allen and Tony Allen are probably more natural shooting guards -- and Rivers went so far as to suggest newcomer Marcus Landry could get some time guarding LeBron James (a challenge the rookie forward said Wednesday he'd covet), or even point guard Rajon Rondo ("We might have no choice, it is what it is," said Rivers.)
Nate's first (full) practice
Fresh off his Boston debut Tuesday night against his old team, Nate Robinson participated in his first full-team practice with the Celtics Wednesday. What's the biggest thing that stood out to Robinson?
"Talking on defense," he said. "They want you to be loud. I'm a loud person, but sometimes in basketball, a guy who talks a lot is not the one talking on defense. They're bringing the best out of me."
Robinson expressed what an advantage it is to have Kevin Garnett being the vocal leader of the defense, which helps Robinson as he learns the system. Offensively, Rivers stressed to Robinson that he wanted him to remain true to his game and continue to be aggressive.
"It was a good practice for him," said Rivers. "We got on him a bunch. Nate's trying to be a passer and we have enough passers. We want him to be aggressive -- his instincts will make him pass anyway. We worked on a lot of stuff -- pick-and-roll, him and Rondo together. I loved the way it looked [Tuesday], but not the way it functioned. We lost an opportunity to spread the game open with those two on the floor. We didn't take advantage, so we kinda worked on it, and showed them how we want it to work."
Long time no see
The Celtics hadn't practiced as a group in Waltham since Feb. 8, a break of 16 days. The team had a session scheduled for Feb. 9, but had to fly to New Orleans early as the city prepared for the Saints' Super Bowl victory parade. Following the All-Star break, Boston squeezed in a couple practices on the road (in Sacramento and Los Angeles), but this amounted to their third full-team session in that 16-day span.
* Nothing to see here: Typically the Celtics open the curtains for the media to watch the final exercises of practice. The team wrapped up quickly Wednesday and Rivers apologized joking, "We weren't running any secret plays like in football."
* Rivers continued to heap praise on Daniels, calling him, "One of the top five cutters in the league," and raving about his defense (which would be sorely missed if he's unable to suit up against the Cavaliers.
* Before Tuesday's game, we pointed out an ESPN.com story about Landry's background as a husband and father while at the University of Wisconsin. Asked about his maturity level, Landry stressed that he doesn't consider this just playing basketball. "It's work -- this is a job. I come to work everyday and I go out and work hard."