Celtics guard Nate Robinson (bruised right knee) participated in only the walkthrough portions of Saturday's session, but said he is hopeful he can suit up for Sunday's visit from the Miami Heat. Boston could sure use him.
The Celtics limped through another injury-plagued practice with 10 available bodies. Shaquille O'Neal (inflamed Achilles), Semih Erden (right adductor strain), Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery), and Marquis Daniels (bruised spine) were not part of the on-court action. Reserve guard Delonte West, champing at the bit for a return from a fractured right wrist that has shelved him since late November, did engage in his second full-contact practice of the week, but Rivers indicated the Celtics would prefer to get him two more practice sessions early next week before hopefully squeezing him back into game action in Wednesday's pre-All-Star finale against, ironically, a New Jersey Nets team he injured himself against.
After banging knees with Shannon Brown, Robinson committed an intentional foul Thursday and hopped off the court early in the second quarter in the loss to the Lakers, leaving Boston with nine available bodies.
"Oh no, when I shot, I got too close and when I landed, [Shannon Brown] landed at the same time and it was like a perfect [collision], like we hit knees perfectly," said Robinson. "I watched it over and over. [Team trainer Ed Lacerte] said it was like a perfect hit."
Robinson said he hadn't undergone an MRI on the knee and will instead wear a brace that might allow him to get through the game.
"I didn't do the MRI yet; I'm just getting treatment right now," said Robinson. "It's cool. [We're going to go with] a knee brace. I'll be straight."
Robinson kept his sense of humor about the situation, noting he actually played with a bigger brace while with the Knicks during the early stages of his career. "I think once in New York, I had a messed up knee for a couple of weeks. I wore a big ol' knee brace then, like [Kendrick Perkins after offseason ACL surgery]. I had one of those and, for a guard, that's ugly, so I couldn't be seen with that thing for too long. That was nasty."
Robinson said he'll stick around all night for treatment if that's what it takes. He's already done it once on Friday, noting he left the facility around 11 p.m. on the team's offday. "I hope [I can play]," said Robinson. "I'm just going to go in here and get treatment. I ain't going to leave here all night, like last night."
The new is less encouraging on Shaq and Erden. Rivers said neither has responded well to treatment and their returns could be pushed back even beyond the All-Star break.
"Semih's groin is not improving; Shaq's Achilles is not improving at all," said Rivers. "Obviously, we thought we'd have both back by [Thursday's game against the Lakers]. But that's fine, they're good."
Pressed on Shaq's injury, Rivers said only: "It just hasn't healed. It's no worse, it just hasn't healed as quickly."
Robinson maintained his optimistic approach, not ready to lean on the injury crutch.
"We've just got to find a way to win, regardless of who goes down," said Robinson. "That's why it's called a team. You have other guys, not just one guy. Guys play through injuries, you've just got to, you know, keep fighting through it and we'll be alright."
Reminded it's been something new each day, he just shook his head and added: "Every day's a mystery."
--NO M.J. IN 49-YEAR-OLD DOC RIVERS--
Celtics director of player development Tyronn Lue sported a reserve team jersey Saturday, suggesting he sneaked into a few drills (though Rivers said the team gutted it out with the 10 players during a 90-minute session). With Bobcats owner and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan practicing with his team earlier this week, Charlotte coach Paul Silas suggested 48-year-old Jordan could average 20 points per game if he returned right now.
The 49-year-old Rivers wanted no part of that fun.
"Hell, I can average 10 [points per game]," said Rivers, quickly clarifying that he meant he could have done that when he was younger with today's softer rules towards guards. Rivers averaged 10.9 points per game for his career, but never topped double digits in his final four seasons.
"With these rules the way they are, if you’re a guard, the way the game is called now -- it’s pretty nice."
Asked earlier in the session about who played the role of LeBron James during practice, Rivers did have fun with it.
"I did today and I was dominant at it," joked Rivers. "So, Michael's thinking about coming back..."
Rivers then revealed backup Von Wafer, who spent much of the session at the swingman spot, actually played the James role for much of the day.
--LOOSE BALLS: RAY HAS NO SHOT; DON'T LEAVE THE (EDDIE) HOUSE--
* Celtics captain Paul Pierce was addressing a group of reporters as Ray Allen walked off the floor following the session. The new NBA 3-point record holder announced, "Paul said I have no chance in the 3-point contest," before hoisting what would have been an intimidating pre-All-Star midcourt heave. It landed wide right.
Quipped Pierce: "No chance. No, I'm not smiling, either."
* While tackling questions on the Heat, Pierce did note that he's still feeling good after sitting out practice earlier this week due to illness. "No, I'm actually feeling pretty good [Saturday]," said Pierce. "I got a good practice in [Saturday] and I'm ready to go."
* Allen said all of Boston's injuries don't detour the team's goal of winning every time out, even against a surging squad like Miami.
"You still want to win and prove to yourself that we're good enough," said Allen. "I think that's not a bad mentality to have when it comes to any team you play. Having that mentality, like that underdog mentality, like we're not good enough. We need to prove that we're good enough. You don't settle for anything and you try to do everything you can do scrape and claw to get what you think is owed to you. So that's the mentality that you have to have."
* Rivers on old friend Eddie House: "Eddie is Eddie. Don’t leave the house, right? That’s what he always said. People keep leaving the house and he keeps hitting shots. I love him. Eddie’s one of my favorite guys, he's got a great spirit about him. He drives you nuts with rotations on defense, but people know who can light up a room and Eddie House does that."