Celtics swingman Michael Finley said there's no bitterness as he prepares to face his former team when the San Antonio Spurs visit the TD Garden Sunday night (ESPN, 8 p.m.). But he said he'd still like to "destroy" them.
"I still want to beat them, believe me," Finley said with a smile. "I don't want to go out and roll over dead for them. It's still my job to go out there and do my best to give my team the best chance to win the ball game. Although we're friends, I want to destroy them. I still want to beat them. That's not going to change. The fact that we're friends, it's something we can laugh and cheer about before or after the game, but that 48 minutes, it's all about business."
There was plenty of chatter about whether Finley can help the Celtics with some advance scouting of the Spurs after spending the last three-plus seasons in San Antonio before requesting and receiving his release earlier this month. Finley, who appeared in 25 games for the Spurs this season and averaged 3.7 points per game, has received a spark in Boston, averaging 5.8 points per game over 11 appearances. What's more, after shooting just 38.1 percent for the Spurs this season, he's shooting a robust 55.1 percent for Boston and has earned a steady spot in the rotation coming off the bench.
We'll have more on Finley and Sunday's matchup against the Spurs later on ESPNBoston.com.
Doc's injury update: Perk likely out; Nate likely in
Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated that Kendrick Perkins is almost certainly out for Sunday's game against San Antonio, while Nate Robinson is likely to be in uniform so long as his ankle doesn't swell following Saturday's hourlong practice session.
Robinson participated fully in activities and showed no ill effects from a sprained left ankle that chased him from Friday's win over the Kings in the second quarter. Robinson injured the ankle while crashing to the floor on a layup attempt and, while he lobbied to return in the second half, the team held him out after the ankle swelled.
Perkins missed only his second game of the season Friday after Rivers asked the big man to shut it down for a couple days due to tendinitis in his left knee. If he does sit out Sunday's game, the Celtics see it as an opportunity for some rare extended rest this time of year.
"Nate looked pretty good," said Rivers. "We didn't do a lot, but he moved around well and I think Nate will play. I don't think Perk will play."
Elaborating on Perkins, Rivers added: "He may play tomorrow, but I don't think he will. Right now, I'd say no. The way we look at it, this gives him three extra days. This is the only break [this month] we have with two days off between games. He'd get Monday and Tuesday before we play [Oklahoma City] Wednesday night. If my math is right, that just gives him longer rest.
"[The knee] was bothering him and it was affecting his play. Obviously, if this was the playoffs, he'd be playing, no doubt. But it's not, so we have to take advantage. The same thing goes for Nate. We wanted him to run, get some movement today. If there's any swelling or if he's sore at all [Sunday], he will not play. Even if he feels good, we have to be healthy in the playoffs."
Rivers also sat Paul Pierce for much of Saturday's practice, noting he's a bit sore from all the recent game action, particularly after enduring all the injuries he's had this season. Pierce did participate in shooting drills to close out the session and spoke with reporters, so it seems any missed time was strictly for maintenance.
Pierce talks free throws, Friday's win over the Kings
With 12 freebies attempted in Friday's win, Pierce hopped over John Havlicek to not only become the Celtics' franchise leader in free throw attempts (5,375 overall), but also leapfrogged to No. 22 on the NBA's all-time list.
With 93 free throw attempted in March, this is already Pierce's busiest month at the line this year. Asked what the difference has been, Pierce noted, "I'm being more aggressive and going to the basket. Before, I didn't have a lot of lift."
With a trio of maladies (right knee infection, left midfoot sprain, and right thumb sprain) behind him, Pierce's numbers are soaring this month, as he's scored 22 points or more in five of his last six outings.
Pierce registered 22 points in Friday's win over the Kings, but noted the team could have been more crisp in the second half.
"We have to close out the game a little better," he said. "We kinda got lax with a 20-point lead. When you have a team that's looking forward to the offseason, 10 games left, you gotta put them away... They're playing for nothing but pride, we've been on the end of that stick before. The season is coming to an end and you're making vacation plans, but... they still got a lot of pride -- an NBA team with a lot of young guys trying to get better and compete."