<
>

Pregame notes: Robinson a go

BOSTON -- Despite suffering a right knee bruise that forced him out of Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics guard Nate Robinson is feeling well enough to give it a go in Sunday's showdown with the Miami Heat.

"He's going to play," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "No [minute restriction], he's fine."

Robinson knocked knees with Los Angeles' Shannon Brown early in the second quarter of Thursday's game, then hopped off the court after committing an intentional foul to stop play. He did not return. Robinson also sat out Saturday's practice, but said after the session that he was getting additional treatment and hoped to play Sunday with the aid of a knee brace.

The ability for Robinson to suit up is key for a Celtics team that will dress only 10 available bodies. Despite another attempt to wiggle his way onto the active roster (this time by dressing in full game gear for Boston's pregame walkthrough Sunday), the team will keep reserve guard Delonte West (fractured right wrist) on the sideline for at least one more game, hoping to bring him back on limited minutes for Wednesday's pre-All-Star finale against the New Jersey Nets.

The Celtics will be down three big men Sunday as well in Shaquille O'Neal (inflamed right Achilles), Semih Erden (right adductor strain), and Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery). A day after Rivers suggested Shaq's experienced little recovery from the foot injury, the 38-year-old center arrived at the arena wearing a walking boot.

Boston will also be without swingman Marquis Daniels, who suffered a bruised spinal cord a week ago against the Orlando Magic, and is sidelined indefinitely. Rivers did note that Daniels will undergo tests next week to determine his long-term prognosis, but was not optimistic about his chances of coming back quickly.

"I know they're doing the test next week. I don’t even know what day and I know they haven’t even found the doctors yet -- which doctors are going to do it. i would tell you this: I wouldn’t anticipate marquis coming back any time soon."

The lack of bodies, which leaves Boston without true backups at swingman or center, also hurts in trying to avoid foul trouble (something that plagued the Celtics in Thursday's loss to the Lakers). Boston can ill afford to have Ray Allen or Paul Pierce find early foul trouble, which isn't always easy to avoid going against the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

"This is a tough one, honestly," said Rivers. "We knew it coming in. If Ray or Paul get in foul trouble, with what we have, it's very difficult for us right now. So, we’re not going to change a lot, but we are going to change our defense a little bit. The fact that we are going to be in more help, it opens up their shooters and that helps them. We have to try to protect Paul and Ray from foul trouble, we have no choice in the matter. Hopefully by the fourth quarter, if they’re in normal foul trouble, we can go back to our normal defense."

Despite an 0-2 record against the Celtics, the Heat are not putting too much pressure on themselves Sunday.

"I know everybody's making it out to be a make-all, break-all," said coach Erik Spoelstra. "For us, it's an opportunity to improve and work on a couple of things that we've been making strides with over the last month, and that's to play better against the elite teams and also to trust and execute better in close games, particularly in the fourth quarter, and this is another opportunity for us to take a step forward in both those categories against a very good team."