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Rivers: Paul Pierce will start

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  December 30, 2011 06:31 PM

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Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Paul Pierce will return to the starting lineup tonight against the Pistons. Rivers said he will monitor Pierce's minutes but does not expect Pierce to be limited in any way.

"I don't know what percentage he is," said Rivers when asked to assess Pierce's health. "I just know [trainer] Eddie Lacerte said Paul should play tonight. I'll be able to give you that after the game, tell you what percentage I thought he was."

Pierce went through a walkthrough with the team before the game and took a few shots after before heading back into the locker room.

Rivers scoffed at the notion that Pierce would be behind in learning the team's plays or defense. The team has been playing some zone defense.

"He can do that," said Rivers. "Or we'll just play man. We haven't played either very well ... whether we can get it out of him, I don't know. That's part of the lockout season.

-- Forward/center Chris Wilcox told reporters before the game that he hopes to practice tomorrow and return to game action Sunday vs. the Wizards. Wilcox said he was "not ready" to play today but was confident he'd be back soon. Wilcox said he did not get an MRI on his injured shoulder because it was feeling better.

-- Rivers said he was OK with Jermaine O'Neal's play in stretches but wants to see him be more consistent. O'Neal has struggled outside of a few stretches in the first game in New York.

-- The Celtics held an extended closed walkthrough before the game instead of a morning shootaround or practice. They plan on doing more of that this season, and it's something they've done in the past.

Rivers said the Celtics put in a new set today before the game.

"I would never do that if the season was normal," said Rivers. "I told the guys today we're probably going to mess it up a few times tonight. But we're absolutely going to run it. And that gives us a chance to work on it, and maybe we'll have it down by the third or fourth game."

On tonight's game being a must-win, Rivers said, "Is this Game 7 of the world championship? Did I miss something?"

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