Celtics upbeat on Pierce for Game 2, uncertain for Perkins
BOSTON -- The swelling was down, the limp was less pronounced, and the questions regarding whether Paul Pierce had overdramatized his injury were not rekindled.
All indications pointed to Pierce playing Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, although things seemed less certain regarding injured Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who sprained his ankle in Game 1.
"Paul is moving much better today, that's clear," coach Doc Rivers said. "Of the two, he's the one I'm most optimistic about."
"My range of motion, just being able to squat all the way down, I can't quite do that yet," Pierce said. "My walk is pretty good actually, but when I go down into a squat position, that's when I feel it the most, when I bend it."
In a ignorance-is-bliss admission, Pierce said he still did not want to undergo an MRI exam to determine whether there was any structural damage to the knee. A source close to the Celtics told ESPN.com that the decision to forego an MRI was entirely Pierce's.
Asked if he was concerned about risking a more serious knee injury, Pierce replied: "Well, you think about it, but over the years I've learned my body a lot and I know when it's really, really bad, enough to get an MRI. Do I need an MRI? Probably, but at this point I don't even want to hear what it is, I just want to go out there and play, and after the series I'll be more concerned with it. But as long as I'm able to get out there and run and help my ballclub, that's all I want to do."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he had not received any negative feedback for expressing skepticism over whether Pierce had overdramatized the seriousness of his injury when he was carried off the court by several teammates and placed in a wheelchair, only to run back onto the court just a few minutes later. On Friday, Jackson joked that the Celtics must have had faith healer Oral Roberts treating Pierce in the locker room.
"Well, we really should have a lot of fun about this; this is sports, after all. These are fun and games," Jackson said. "I kid the NBA about taking the fun out of the Finals, but this is still fun. We try to make this fun."
Even Kobe Bryant had a little fun with a question comparing the intensity of rivalries in the NBA today to what they were -- especially between the Celtics and Lakers -- two decades ago.
"You know, I've heard stories in the past of them coming here and not getting room service and stuff like that. I mean, my room service is cool. You know, I got the nice apple pie with the ice cream on top, á la mode. I didn't even ask for the ice cream but they hooked me up," Bryant said. "There's a healthy competition, and they obviously want to win, the city wants to win, but it's not like 'I hate your guts.' "
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here
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And then there were two -- the Lakers and Celtics. Who will win the NBA Finals? Let the games begin.
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