Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce Suffers Thigh Bruise, Team Breathes Sigh of Relief

Zachary Stanley@@SFLeaguesCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2011

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 16:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks on from the bench in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks on December 16, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

When Paul Pierce scurried off into the locker room in the closing minutes of Thursday night's game against the Blazers, my life, once again, flashed before my eyes.

This is my usually overdramatic ritual every time a Celtic so much as winces. 

The fact that Pierce walked off under his own power while the Celtics were methodically defeating a confused Portland squad partially put my mind at ease; as I recited reassuring statements to myself, waiting for the news to come out: "Nothing happenedddd. Did anybody see what happened? He's finnneeeee."

Around two in the morning, A. Sherrod Blakely tweeted that Pierce had suffered a mild thigh bruise and was listed as day-to-day.

Pierce had apparently been kneed by a Blazers' player. Whew.

The Celtics play Phoenix tomorrow and I can't imagine Pierce being in uniform. A warrior? Of course. But Doc Rivers (thankfully, for my sanity) loves to sit his players if they have so much as an ache. 

The Celtics had nearly sealed the win against the Blazers; was it worth it for Pierce to stay in the game or be cautionary?

Pierce is smart, Rivers is smart and it is this kind of mentality toward injuries that a veteran organization needs. It is as important as anything else. It is what has sustained the San Antonio Spurs for years now.

A method, come playoff time, that has opponents suddenly remembering, oh, right, this team has another gear.

There was a reason that Kevin Garnett came back after a couple weeks looking 100 percent (barring the rust-induced, two-to-three-game rhythm restoration). Because the Celtics weren't going to let him back on the floor unless he was 100 percent. Not now.

The Celtics won't take a chance on any of their pieces getting injured if they can help it, let alone their pulse.

Rajon Rondo has played through some mildly nagging injuries, but he is also the youngest of the "We-can't-afford-to-lose-this-guy" Group. Rondo has a young body that will quickly bounce back, but taking care of the vets is a must.

Of course, now that I have been calmed by the news of Pierce's none-worrisome injury, my thoughts have promptly escalated to Sunday's 3:30 EST contest against the Lakers.

It would just be like the basketball gods to not give us a legitimate preview of what will hopefully come later this season.

Still, it would be exciting to see a wrath-filled Kendrick Perkins giving an, "I'm back and I'm not bleeping around" stare-down at the Staples Center. 

The Lakers-Celtics is the perfect buffer for the Super Bowl. The only gripe I have is that the NHL All-Star game is on at almost the exact same time.

Is there any we can switch time slot for the "We Act Like We're Trying, but We're Really Already on Vacation" Bowl with the NHL All-Star game? Please?

Hopefully, the Celtics will give Pierce the night off against Phoenix and he can make use of the day off Saturday to be ready in time for the Lakers.

I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly what Piece is thinking, as well. Pierce will want to be back. Badly.

Sunday isn't just a regular game. These teams hate each other.