Perkins latest Celtic sidelined by illness

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Forward Paul Pierce said he expects to return to action Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons, but the Boston Celtics will be without center Kendrick Perkins, who is sick and did not travel with the team.

Pierce has missed the past three games with a sprained right thumb.

"I feel great," said Pierce, who wore tape over his right thumb and wrist at Monday's practice. "I had a chance to get out here and it really felt good getting up and down the court. I wanted to make I could catch, dribble, and shoot without pain. It felt great."

Pierce originally sprained his right thumb Feb. 18 in the first half of a win against the Los Angeles Lakers. He played two more games before finally retreating to the sideline to allow the injury to heal. He said it was difficult watching his team struggle during losses to the Cavaliers and Nets last week, and joked that he might have jinxed them.

"I started thinking maybe I shouldn't have shown up," Pierce said. "I didn't show up for New York and we won, maybe it was something I did. But there's no excuses. We should have taken care of business."

Pierce acknowledged that, had he played last week, the thumb injury could have easily been aggravated. He's confident after Monday's practice that he's ready to go without limitations.

"If I played a couple games ago and it got hit, it would have hurt really bad," he said. "But I'm at the point now where, if I get hit, it's not going to bother me. I've been getting extra treatment, resting, it's been good."

Perkins battled the sniffles during Saturday's loss to the New Jersey Nets, but his condition has clearly worsened since then.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted before that game that Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis also were not feeling 100 percent, while Marquis Daniels, Pierce, and Nate Robinson have battled flu-like symptoms in the past week.

Rivers indicated that, if Perkins felt better Tuesday morning, he could attempt to join the team in time for the game, but suggested that was unlikely. Reports on Tuesday indicated Perkins did not fly to Detriot on Tuesday. Rasheed Wallace will start in place of Perkins.

"So many guys are not feeling well, we can't afford to have a [sick] guy around anybody else, let it start up again," Rivers said. "We're taking a different measure, we're keeping all unhealthy people away from each other. Even those with injuries, just stay away."

Davis said the rest of the team's big men would be ready to step up in Perkins' absence.

"We got Rasheed, me, [Shelden Williams], [Brian Scalabrine], we can all play the 4," Davis said. "We're just worried about getting Perk back because he's a big part of this team."