WALTHAM -- The Celtics are preparing for the real possiblility that they won't have Paul Pierce available when they open the shortened 66-game season on Sunday in New York against the Knicks. Pierce, nursing a nagging heel injury, shot around after practice and watched from the sidelines but did not take part in the team's formal practice session on Friday.
"He didn't do anything," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after Friday's session. "He seemed to working more as far as working out so we'll see [Saturday]. I still think it's doubtful but we'll see.
"I think [Saturday], we'll know better. Paul may wake up and say, 'Coach, I wanna go.' I can tell you this, it's very unlikely he'll start if he plays. I don't think that'll happen. If he does play, he'll play 15 to 20 minutes but right now, I don't see him playing."
If Pierce is unable to go, Rivers said Sasha Pavlovic will likely start in his place, as was the case Wednesday night in the preseason finale against the Raptors. The Celtics fielded a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Sasha Pavlovic, the likely starting five Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Rivers said he won't let Pierce's desire to play override any concerns from the medical staff, especially this season. The final decision to play will be the medical staff.
"It's the medical staff's decision," Rivers said. "It's 100 percent the medical staff. I think this year it's really going to have to be that because we can't trust them in that because if they do play and further their injury, and they miss 10 games, that's [like] 25 games because of the shortened season."
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