THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Pierce is day to day with a strain

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / February 3, 2010

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After being pounded this season by injuries, the Celtics may have received season-saving news last night when it was determined that Paul Pierce has just a mid-foot strain and is considered day to day.

After a day of speculation that Pierce could miss several weeks with a broken foot, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would not rule out Pierce playing tonight against the Miami Heat at TD Garden.

An X-ray and an MRI showed that Pierce did not sustain serious damage when he collided with Washington’s Caron Butler during Monday night’s win over the Wizards.

“We were concerned after watching the injury and seeing the soreness on Paul’s foot this morning and what it looked like on TV,’’ said Ainge. “I was worried, so I was very relieved to hear it was a sprained mid-foot and that he’ll be back soon.’’

Pierce left Monday’s 99-88 victory after Butler landed on his foot during a scramble for the ball with 2:01 left in the first quarter. Pierce, whose foot bent awkwardly under Caron, limped to the bench and was attended to by trainer Ed Lacerte but did not go to the locker room.

He returned to the game and played the final 7:53 of the second quarter as well as 10:24 of the third before sitting for the entire fourth quarter because coach Doc Rivers thought he was hurting.

Pierce was not examined until late yesterday afternoon and team doctor Brian McKeon did not receive the test results until approximately 5:45 p.m. The Celtics medical staff reviewed the results, examined Pierce for a second time, then made the diagnosis.

Earlier in the day, there was speculation - fueled in part by a Twitter post from teammate Shelden Williams - that Pierce broke his foot, information that Ainge called “way premature.’’

Pierce had an ice pack on the foot following the game and called the injury a sprain, but privately team officials feared it was much worse.

This is Pierce’s second injury in a month. He missed five games in December and January after having an infection drained from his right knee.

“When he’s ready, he’ll be ready,’’ Ainge said. “I think we’ll know. Again, his long-term health is the most important thing, and yet when he’s ready, he will be allowed to play. I don’t know when that is.’’

The tweet by Williams yesterday afternoon read: “Man when it rains it pours!!! Yall will find out what I mean soon!!!!’’

Before the test results were known, Ainge had said, “I know all of this was started because of some Twitter post from Shelden, and people are worried but we don’t know anything yet.’’

Pierce, averaging 18.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, missed the five games in December and missed 35 games in 2006-07 with a stress reaction in his left foot, but otherwise he has been amazingly durable during his career.

This season, the Celtics have had to deal with injuries to Glen Davis (27 games, broken right thumb), Kevin Garnett (11 games, hyperextended right knee), Tony Allen (20 games, right ankle surgery), and Marquis Daniels (26 games, torn left thumb ligament).

According to an NBA source, the league was not yet looking into replacing Pierce for the All-Star Game, for which he was named a reserve.

Ainge said he doesn’t feel any pressing need to add a player for depth, though the Celtics have an open roster spot.

“We have guys that are on the roster that don’t even get to play,’’ he said. “[Brian Scalabrine] is not playing all that many minutes, and Billy [Walker] is a healthy body who can play minutes, so we don’t feel any desperate need to get anybody in.’’

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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