BOSTON — Paul Pierce had long since left the locker room, slightly favoring his sore left knee, when Celtics forward Brandon Bass was asked about his teammate's performance in Game 4 against the Hawks.
"He's a warrior," Bass said. "That's it."
Pierce gutted through the pain in his knee to score 24 points in less than 17 minutes, but his condition for the next few games is far from certain. Shortly before tip-off Sunday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers declared that he never worries about Pierce's minutes. Then he sat in front of the media after the game and disclosed that Pierce's status for the game had been questionable after the captain tweaked his knee in the morning shootaround, and said he was unsure whether Pierce will play in Game 5 on Tuesday.
"I have no idea," Rivers said. "You know, with a couple of guys, actually three of them, we literally don't know, but we'll find out."
In addition to Pierce, Ray Allen is day to day with bone spurs in his right ankle and Avery Bradley has a sore left shoulder that bears watching. Mickael Pietrus played with a sore hamstring and picked up four fouls in 13 scoreless minutes on Sunday after playing 25 minutes of strong defense Friday.
On the Hawks' side, center Al Horford played for the first time since Jan. 11 and forward Josh Smith returned after missing Game 3 with a minor injury to his left knee.
Rivers has aggressively rested his players, if there is such a thing, opting not to hold formal practices in the days off between Games 3, 4 and 5. Allen, who typically would get into the gym to hoist a few hundred shots on an off day, has even pulled back on his shooting regimen in an attempt to lessen the swelling in his ankle.
"I would say, based on normally what I would do, I'm maybe doing 40 percent of that over the last two weeks," Allen said. "The bulk of that has been in the last three or four days. At first I did no shooting at all because I wanted to calm down, and it did me well, just the rest."
When asked about their injuries, the Celtics have cited a mantra: Pain or regrets. They would rather deal with pain than have to live with the regret of missing a game at this crucial time of year. That may be the only thing that is keeping them going.