Pierce return ‘highly doubtful’ before Jan. 2

In the past, Paul Pierce has persuaded the Celtics to allow him to perform, despite injuries. This time, though, the team is being extra cautious as Pierce recovers from surgery for an infection in his right knee.

The Celtics took the day off after arriving in Los Angeles for Sunday’s game against the Clippers. They will visit Golden State tomorrow and Phoenix Dec. 30. Though Pierce could make the trip West on his own, it is “highly doubtful” he will do so, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a text message Saturday.

Ainge said Pierce’s return is not expected before the Celtics play host to Toronto Jan. 2.

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