Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Quick hits from Celtics practice
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Quick hits after the Celtics practiced Tuesday at HealthPoint:
* Pierce (heel) remains out: Celtics captain Paul Pierce remains sidelined by a bruised right heel. He will sit out Wednesday's preseason finale against the Raptors and his status for Christmas Day is now uncertain. "It’s just a heel bruise," said coach Doc Rivers. "He went real hard [Monday] and it got real sore. We just want him to rest." Rivers said he's not concerned long-term, but is worried about Pierce's availability out of the gates with three games in four nights to start the season.
* 'Quis separates from pack: Marquis Daniels spent a lot of time with the first unit Tuesday in place of Pierce, but Rivers admitted he was still on the fence about whether Daniels would replace Pierce in the starting lineup if he's unable to go on Christmas Day with a hope of preserving the growing second-unit chemistry. One thing that's certain, Daniels is separating himself from others competing for backup jobs. "I like when guys separate themselves and that’s what I tell them all the time," said Rivers. "Right now, Marquis is clearly separating himself, and that’s what you have to do. You have to make it so it’s no thought -- 'You're in Marquis.' I don’t look down there and say, ‘Uh, which one [should I put in]?’"
* JJ earns KG's trust: It may seem minor, but JaJuan Johnson appears to have already earned the trust of Kevin Garnett and that's huge for him moving forward. Garnett only gives newcomers one chance early on to take his guidance and rookie Johnson appears to have passed the test. "Kevin is clearly taking JaJuan under his wing. You guys have been around -- he gives you the one shot and if he thinks you’re paying attention, he spends the year around you, and you can see JaJuan obviously has passed the test," said Rivers. "Which is good news for everyone, because it makes it a bad year for that guy."
* Roster to 15: Rivers said the team will trim to 15 as early as before Wednesday's exhibition finale (and, if not, right after). Said Rivers, "Mainly because we just want to get to the guys we’re going to have." He then waited a beat before cracking, "And I only bought 15 Christmas gifts." Barring a late roster addition, the Celtics have room for two camp invites to make the team (likely on non-guaranteed deals). Center Greg Stiemsma and wing Gilbert Brown would seemingly be the favorites ahead of centers Jamal Sampson (who was again not with the team Tuesday) and Michael Sweetney.
* Loose Balls: Players drawing large media crowds included Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, and Chris Wilcox... The Celtics hosted a charity holiday party after the event with some younger players like Avery Bradley joining youngsters for games of Connect 4 and Jenga.