BOSTON - Paul Pierce joined the list of injured Celtics prior Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, injuring his left knee during shootaround Sunday morning. Pierce re-aggravated the injury in the second quarter after tripping over Atlanta's Joe Johnson.
Pierce was trying to get around a screen when he bumped his left knee against Johnson and fell to the floor. He clutched his knee for several seconds but got up under his own power and walked to the locker room. Pierce would return to start the third quarter.
"I kind of tripped over someone's foot," Pierce said after Game 4, in which he scored 24 points. "I had to sit around the last half of shoot-around, and tonight I just kind of re-aggravated it when I came up off the screen with Josh Smioth right there. It's a little bit sore right now so Doc [Rivers] just wanted to take precautions tonight especially when we had such a big lead. I got some rest for the next game. ... You don't want to really sit down or let it get stiff. That's why I went over and got on the bike there when I got out of the game. If it had stiffened up on me I probably wouldn't have had a chance to come back."
While he did come back, Pierce only played three minutes in the second half. Fortunately, the Celtics did not need his services in the third or fourth quarter, as the led, 64-41, at halftime. Boston would build its lead up to 37 points in the third before beating the Hawks 101-79.
Pierce was dribbling at practice when he suffered the injury and fell to the floor, a sight that made Celtics coach Doc Rivers uncertain about Pierce's status heading into Game 4.
"When I left shoot-around, I probably thought he was not going to play," Rivers said. "And (Trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) said, ‘Let's see, let's give it a try, and see how he feels.' I talked to him right before the game; I asked him ‘What do you think?' And he said, ‘Well let me just try to warm it up and see how I feel.' It's amazing. I mean, honestly, guys around the league - He was just dribbling the ball and went to the floor in shoot-around. And I was thinking, ‘What more can you --?' We were walking. You know, that's how you felt, like, my gosh. And honestly, when he went down, it didn't look good. So the fact that he could come in and play, and then play the way he played was great."
Pierce seemed to be walking fine after the game, but Rivers was not sure about his status for Game 5, which takes place on Tuesday evening at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
"I have no idea," said Rivers, who has dealt with countless injuries this year. "You know, with a couple of guys, actually three of them, we literally don't know. So we'll find out."