Celtics reserve swingman Marquis Daniels remained away from the team for a second straight day as he tends to a family matter, the team said. Coach Doc Rivers said he was unsure if Daniels would rejoin the team in time for Wednesday's game against the Washington Wizards, but sounded prepared for the alternatives if he didn't.
Rivers said Delonte West, set for his first action of the 2010-11 season after serving a 10-game suspension, could log time at the small forward position if the Celtics needed someone to eat minutes there with the second unit.
"Well, we have Delonte," Rivers said with a shrug when asked about backups behind Paul Pierce. "It's not what you want at the 3. We would be small, obviously, at that position so we'd just have to pitch in."
Daniels' absence could mean more minutes for Pierce or Ray Allen if the Celtics elect to lean on their starters (though a rare comfortable lead might offer flexibility to float in the likes of Von Wafer or Luke Harangody instead). Either way, the situation is nothing new for a Celtics team that has been shorthanded all season.
"It's good to get some pieces in, but every time we get a new piece, another one goes down," Pierce said of the West addition/Daniels subtraction. "We have a ways to go until we're full strength, but it's good to have Delonte out there. He gives us some added depth at the wing. I know me and Ray have been playing a lot of minutes over this 10-game stretch, so it's great to have him out there."
Daniels, who missed 31 games last season, primarily because of torn ligaments in his left thumb, has been healthy this season and is providing strong play behind Pierce, particularly on the defensive end. Daniels is averaging 5.6 points and 2.2 rebounds over 17.1 minutes per game.
--AFTER LAST SEASON, BOSTON NOT LOOKING PAST WIZARDS--
It might have been one of the lowest moments of the 2009-10 regular season: The Wizards invaded the Garden on April 9 and opened a near-30-point cushion in the first half, sending the Celtics to their fifth loss in seven games, with Pierce calling it "an old-fashioned butt whooping."
Maybe that's why, especially considering the Wizards added flashy rookie John Wall and got All-Star Gilbert Arenas back from suspension, the Green are not taking Wednesday's tilt lightly.
"Teams like this are scary," said Pierce. "Teams like this are the ones we had problems with a year ago -- young talent and a lot of guys trying to prove themselves. Andray Blatche trying to make a name for himself, Al Thornton and, of course, John Wall, who's going to be a great rookie. These are games that these guys could look at and say this would make their year, or could turn their year around. We've really got to be mentally prepared and physically prepared for this team and come out with our best performance."
The Celtics don't know yet if they'll see Wall (sprained left foot), but Rivers gushed about his potential.
"It’s tough to see because he's going so fast," Rivers joked when asked about what he's seen out of the young guard. "He’s got great speed. Him and Arenas, we haven't seen it a lot, but when they're on the floor [together], that's a lot of speed to guard, and they have length. They have length and bigs that can shoot. They pose problems. You've really got to have great focus defensively or they’ll throw 110 or 120 [points] on you in a heartbeat."
--LOOSE BALLS: BRADLEY COULD DRESS; PRACTICE TIME WELCOMED--
* Rookie guard Avery Bradley went through an entire practice for the second straight day. While Rivers was noncommittal as to whether Bradley could be activated for Wednesday's game, the coach did say he wouldn't be bashful about using him if the situation allowed.
"He's close as far as his speed, but I don't know if he's close as far as his knowledge -- as far as what we're doing and what he should do in an NBA game. But listen, he may get activated because we need another body. I wouldn't be afraid to put him in there in certain situations."
Allen suggested that Bradley might still be favoring his tender left ankle and the veteran shooting guard said he must overcome that mental obstacle before he'll truly be ready to partake in his first regular-season action.
* The Celtics took Sunday off before back-to-back practice sessions to start the week. After squeezing in what amounted to one practice over the previous nine days (during a four-game road trip), the time was actually well-received.
"We haven't been able to get any practice time," said Pierce. "That's key for us, especially getting Delonte back in the mix. That's most important right now.
"These [second-unit players] are going to be big for us, especially during the stretch of games we've got toward the end of the month. Practice time is definitely needed."
Rivers said he saw plenty of "slippage" during the road trip, though Boston's offense only got better. He's used the last two days to clean up some sloppiness on the defensive end.