BOSTON It's a new season for the Boston Celtics, but a key player being in day-to-day mode?
Yeah, we've been there, done that.
This time it's Paul Pierce, who acknowledged prior to Boston's 106-104 loss to New York on Christmas Day that there's no time frame for when his right heel will be healthy enough for him to resume playing.
Pierce said an MRI taken recently revealed that he's suffering from a bone bruise, one of the more unpredictable injuries in terms of healing.
It's the kind of injury from which Pierce can bounce back in days, or the pain could be so severe that he may be out for weeks.
"I don't see it being a month or two," Pierce said of his injury. "Right now, I'm day-to-day."
The Celtics started Sasha Pavlovic in place of Pierce on Sunday, and had Marquis Daniels coming off the bench.
It was a rough night for Pavlovic, whose only point scored was one for the Knicks -- he was whistled for a technical foul that resulted in one of Carmelo Anthony's game-high 37 points.
"This is my ninth year in the league," Pavlovic reminded the media, even though at times on Sunday he looked like a rookie who had never faced Anthony. "He's just a tough player; he's tough to stop. He's gonna get his points. All we gotta do is make it hard as possible for him."
Without question, handling Anthony would not have been nearly as difficult if Pierce were healthy enough to play.
But don't tell coach Doc Rivers, who was quick to shut down any talk about Sunday's loss being about the Celtics not having Pierce.
"Listen, Paul didn't play. We don't worry about that," Rivers said. "We don't talk about guys who are injured. The Knicks beat us; they beat us with what we had. No excuses."
There's no telling if Pierce would have been able to play if it weren't so early in the season. But it's clear the C's understand that even with a tight schedule, there's no benefit in bringing a player back -- especially one of Pierce's caliber -- back too soon from an injury.
"The key for us," Pierce said, "is being healthy when it's time to be healthy. That's the biggest issue surrounding us over the past two or three years. Regardless of the start, regardless of the playoff seed. We'd like to be the number-one seed and have home-court advantage. But the most important thing for this team is to be healthy."
Which is why as disappointing as it was to lose the opener to the Knicks, the Celtics would be even more down if they had won the game and Pierce had re-aggravated the heel and was sidelined even longer.
And when you talk about Pierce, few players in franchise history have been as good on Christmas Day.
In fact, Pierce has averaged 21.7 points in his three Christmas Day games, more than any player in franchise history.
"Everybody understands how competitive I am, especially on a stage like this, Madison Square Garden, Christmas Day," Pierce said.
Well aware of the risk of further injuring the heel, "It just wouldn't be worth it (to have played on Sunday), to have a setback."