Pierce: 'I'm day-to-day'


Pierce: 'I'm day-to-day'

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."

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – For so many years the game of basketball came easy – almost too easy – for James Young.

He stood out on a young Kentucky team that played at the highest levels, delivering the kind of performances as an 18-year-old college freshman that catapulted him into the first round of the NBA draft.

To be so young and already having achieved a childhood dream, to be in the NBA, Young was too young to realize how quickly the dream could become a nightmare if he didn't put in the necessary work.

The past couple of weeks have not been easy for Young, aware that the Celtics were torn as to whether they should keep him around this season or waive him.

They choose the former and instead waived his now-ex teammate R.J. Hunter, on Hunter’s 23rd birthday no less.

One of the first acts Young said he planned to do following Monday's practice was to reach out to Hunter, offer words of encouragement to a player he looked upon as a brother, a brother who is in a state of basketball limbo right now which could have easily been the latest chapter in James Young’s basketball narrative.

And that’s why as happy as Young is to still be donning the Green and White, his work towards proving himself to this team, to this franchise is far from done.

You listen to veterans like Jae Crowder, a second-round pick who has come up the hard way in the NBA, they speak of how Young now takes the game more serious.

Even Young acknowledged that he didn’t take the NBA game and the need to work at staying in the league as serious as he should have initially.

“I wasn’t playing as hard (early on),” Young admitted. “I just was satisfied being where I was, being too comfortable. My confidence was down. I have to change that around.”

Crowder, a straight-no-chaser kind of fellow, said as much when I asked him about the changes he has seen in Young.

“He’s taking stuff a little more serious,” Crowder said. “It’s growing up. He came in as a first-round draft pick and was on the borderline of getting cut. I don’t know what else is going to wake you up.”

That’s part of what made this decision so difficult and on some levels, left players with mixed emotions about the decision.

For those of us who followed this team through training camp, there was no question that Young had the better camp.

But the one thing that was never questioned with Hunter, was his work ethic. He made his share of mistakes and missed more shots than a player with a sharpshooter's reputation should, but you never got a sense it had anything to do with him not working as hard as he needed to.

That was among the more notable issues with Young who came into the league as an 18-year-old. That youth probably worked for him as opposed to Hunter who played three years of college basketball and was expected to be seemingly more NBA-ready.

Even though Hunter’s NBA future is on uncertain ground now, he’s too young and too talented to not get at least one more crack with an NBA team.

And by Boston waiving him, he really does become a low-risk, high-reward prospect that an NBA team might want to take a closer look at with their club. 

And Young remains a Celtic, doing all that he can to climb up the pecking order which now has him as the clear-cut 15th man on the roster.

He might see more minutes than rookie Demetrius Jackson and possibly second-year forward Jordan Mickey, but Young’s future with the Boston Celtics is still on relatively thin ice.

“I told him this morning, this might be the first time he’s earned anything in his life,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.  “He earned this by his play, day-in and day-out. He was given a lot as a young kid with a lot of promise, a lot of potential. We talked about earlier this summer, he had to come out and win a spot with some good competition and he did. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

More than anything else, Young has been consistent in his effort, overall energy and attention to detail. But it remains to be seen if Young has done all that to just secure a roster spot, or has he truly grown up and figured out what has to be done in order to be an NBA player.