Boston In the past two days, New England's most celebrated right knee - and to this point, the focal point of the NBA finals - has been encased in ice, undergone electrical stimulation therapy, even had lasers fired at it.
Paul Pierce's knee has been primped, prodded and pampered like never before. It's not 100 percent, but it's good enough.
Pierce, who sprained his knee and made a dramatic return in Boston's series-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers after being carried off the floor in the second half, said Saturday that he will "definitely" play in Game 2 tonight.
"Once those lights come on and the popcorn starts popping, I'll be ready," declared the Celtics' All-Star forward and captain.
Knee less swollen
Wearing a black elastic brace and white sleeve over his injury, Pierce reported that his knee was less swollen. He's still not able to bend it the way he'd like, but Pierce feels with another 24 hours of rest and treatment that he'll be able to start.
How effective he'll be is another story.
"Knowing my threshold of pain, to go out there and play shouldn't be a problem," said Pierce, who only planned to shoot free throws and walk through some plays on Saturday. "It should be something I should be able to do."
Perkins expects to play
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins also expects to be in the starting lineup after spraining his left ankle in Game 1.
Following his news conference, Pierce walked gingerly toward the court in TD Banknorth Garden with only the slightest sign of a limp. When he finally joined his teammates on the floor, Pierce grabbed a ball and was soon being playfully guarded by teammate Sam Cassell, who jammed his forearm into Pierce's back and dared him to shoot.
"You gonna talk all day?" Cassell chirped, "or are you gonna ball?"
Pierce's playing status, and skepticism about the severity of his injury, have been the dominant topics of conversation in the renewed rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics, who are meeting in the finals for the first time since 1987.
On Friday, Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson raised a few eyebrows by wondering if Pierce had been overly dramatic about the injury.
Moments after he was lifted from the floor by teammates and placed in a wheelchair, Pierce jogged back out of the tunnel to a thundering ovation and quickly made consecutive three-pointers as the Celtics took control and went on to a 98-88 win.