Chris Gasper reports from Celtics camp
Doc Rivers has said repeatedly that he doesn’t think with the paucity of practice time in the NBA that Paul Pierce will get back into game shape this season. However, Pierce said after the team’s practice today that he expects to be back in full physical form – or close to it — in about a week.
Pierce admitted he struggled with his conditioning for most of the Celtics’ Western trip, but feels it’s coming around. Pierce logged 42 minutes in a 102-94 victory over the Knicks on Wednesday night — the most time he’s seen since returning from a stress reaction in his left foot against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 9 — and said he felt good playing that much.
“I’m doing a better job of getting off the floor. I’m moving laterally a lot better,” said Pierce. “As long as I continue to work hard and put in the extra work, I’m not going to worry about it. I feel like the beginning of the summer. You take that time off and you get back into workouts. That’s how I feel and now it’s coming along.”
Rivers said even a less than fully fit Pierce makes a big difference for the young Celtics.
“I don’t know if Paul gets his legs back to where they were the beginning of the year,” said Rivers. “I honestly just don’t think you can, but it’s still a good enough Paul, with Al and the other guys to show where we were going at the point of all the injuries.
“We’re just going to keep trying to improve on that knowing that next year you get a healthy Wally [Szczerbiak] and a healthy Tony Allen back and it makes you even better, plus a draft pick and a vet, hopefully.”
Perkins to remain in lineup
Rivers said the Celtics have no plans to shut down center Kendrick Perkins, who is dealing with a painful bout of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Rivers said he actually thought it was good for Perkins as a young player to learn how to play with an injury. “It can get worse as far as the pain this year, but not as far as injuring it,” Rivers said.
Good vibes with Nets
The last time the Celtics played at New Jersey, as they will tomorrow, they enjoyed what Rivers called their best win of the year. Boston rallied from an abysmal start — the Nets ran out to a 22-2 lead to start the game — to take home a 92-90 win on Dec. 9, when Pierce sank a jumper at the buzzer. Al Jefferson had 29 points and 14 rebounds in that game. Rivers called it, “the birth of Al.”
The Celtics weren’t originally scheduled to practice today, but the team could not get a charter flight going out last night. Boston was slated to leave for New Jersey today at 3 p.m. Team spokesman Jeff Twiss said the team did not anticipate any problems getting out today.