Thursday's practice report: Pierce eyes Sunday return

WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes from the Celtics' practice Thursday at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint:

Pierce eyes Sunday return

Celtics captain Paul Pierce, day to day with a left mid-foot sprain, sat out Thursday's practice session, opting for some light running in on a treadmill as Boston went through preparations for Friday's visit from the New Jersey Nets.

Pierce, who injured his foot in a collision with Washington's Caron Butler during the first quarter of Monday's triumph over the Wizards, remains doubtful for Friday's game, though he will participate in a pregame shootaround to gauge his recovery, and is targeting Sunday's visit from the Magic as a potential return date.

"I'm going by how it feels," said Pierce. "The good thing is that, over the last couple days, it's gotten better every day. I'm taking it a day at a time, until I know it's ready.

"I can walk on it. It's just a mid-foot sprain, it's not the end of the world. I've had worse injuries to tell you the truth. The good thing is I didn't have to go in a boot. I'm still walking around on it. It's about the pain going away. It's just a sprain, but it's not the worst sprain I've ever had."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pierce hadn't been expected to participate in drills Thursday and that he will be reevaluated Friday, but it's unlikely he would play. Rivers did say that Pierce had a "better than 50 percent" chance at playing Sunday against the Magic.

But Rivers also said that if Pierce showed any signs of lingering pain, he would hold him out as long as through the All-Star break. Rivers even suggested that he'd be willing to let Pierce play in the All-Star Game as his first action back, even if Pierce missed the next three games, just to get some activity before the Celtics resume play Feb. 16 in Sacramento to kick off a four-game road trip.

Pierce found some humor when a reporter exaggerated the news reports from Tuesday, asking Pierce how it felt to find out he was "on life support." Reports early in the day indicated Pierce had a broken foot.

"I know my body, better than the doctors, to tell you the truth," said Pierce. "Like I told y'all after the game on Monday, I thought it was a sprain. The doctor wanted to do the necessary tests they have to do, with the X-rays and MRI, but I told them all along [about the sprain] and that's what it came out to be.

"I don't know how it started that I had a broken foot. But it provided good drama for half a day."

Daniels: 'Felt like the first day of school'

Celtics guard Marquis Daniels, who has missed the past 27 games recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, participated in his first full practice since the injury sidelined him on Dec. 4. The Celtics spent time at the end of the session going over sets with the second unit, with a hefty focus on getting Daniels up to speed.

Given his ability to play three positions, Daniels has plenty of catching up to do in the playbook, but Daniels gave positive reviews after the session, going so far as to suggest he might be ready to return to action for Sunday's game against the Magic.

"I'll get one more good practice in [Saturday] and hopefully I can try for Sunday," said Daniels. "[Thursday] was like the first day of school. I'm very excited. I'm ready to get back out there, get to play, and be a part of this team."

Daniels wore heavy tape over his left thumb and wrist and stayed out after the session to work on his shooting. His biggest obstacle is getting his timing back. Daniels has been able to work on his conditioning much of the past month so that should not be a problem.

"I think they did a good job running me," Daniels said with a smile. "They turned me into Forrest Gump a little bit."

The Celtics didn't go through any contact, a curse and a blessing as Daniels attempts to get back in game shape. It saves him from any unnecessary contact, but he's almost looking forward to getting hit for the first time -- if for no other reason than to get it over with. Rivers noted that, when utilized in the post, he's going to get hit.

"[The taped hand] is a bull's-eye," said Rivers.

Daniels previously pegged Wednesday's visit to New Orleans, the final game before the All-Star break, as a potential return date. It would seem, barring a setback, he's almost certain to be back for that game, even if he can't go Sunday.

Slam dunk contest? That's news to Bill Walker

Celtics second-year forward Bill Walker was unaware that he had been selected to participate in the NBA Development League's slam dunk contest at All-Star weekend. In fact, a reporter had to show him the e-mail distributed by the NBA announcing his participation.

Despite the invitation, Walker doesn't currently plan to attend. He would have to be reassigned to the Maine Red Claws of the NBDL, as a formality, and it's probably not worth the trouble. Walker is working extra hard in hopes of getting some extra minutes while Pierce is sidelined.

Walker didn't disagree when a reporter suggested it was like being invited to the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament.

"It is like the NIT," he said. "I don't want to do it."

Walker hopes to head home and spend time with his mother.