Paul Pierce had a very good reason, it turns out, to miss Monday’s game.
While the Celtics were in Minnesota, Pierce was home in Boston with his wife, who was about to give birth.
And at 8:21 p.m. Tuesday, the couple’s first son, Prince Paul Pierce, entered this world.
“In the next 18 years, world, Celtics fans, look out,” Pierce told WEEI late Wednesday night after the Celtics beat the Pistons, 98-93, at TD Garden.
With their win and Philadelphia’s loss at Charlotte, the Celtics clinched a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive season.
Pierce scored 17 points and had five assists in 33 minutes Wednesday. He did not reveal the birth in the locker room when he met with reporters, instead waiting to spill the beans on the radio.
In shorts, sneakers, a long-sleeved shirt, and a bulky brace on his right knee, All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo returned to TD Garden’s parquet floor Wednesday to get up shots about an hour before the Celtics played the Pistons.
Rondo’s mere presence caused a stir, with onlookers starting to wonder if he might be making a miraculous return to the lineup a little more than two months after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament.
Let the speculation end there. Rondo was just making a cameo to do some light shooting — free throws and other set shots that didn’t require him to jump too much.
He isn’t expected to be playing until training camp later this year.
“It was great, just having him around [at Wednesday’s shootaround],” coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “He put his brace on and he just watched shootaround. , but then he walked out – or limped out – on the floor and did whatever he did. But it’s good having him around. It’s good for him too, probably.”
Rondo tore his right anterior cruciate ligament Jan. 25 at Atlanta and was declared out for the season two days later.
The guard had surgery in Atlanta, performed by Dr. James Andrews. Rondo, who is still undergoing rehab, returned to the Celtics bench for their win against the Hawks last Friday.
Garnett to return?
A team source said that forward Kevin Garnett, who missed his seventh consecutive game with inflammation in his left ankle, is expected to return to action Friday against the Cavaliers.
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t even know,” Rivers said when asked if Garnett would play this week. “Honestly, I haven’t asked one question about it.”
The initial prognosis, made by the team March 25, was that Garnett would miss two weeks.
“Whatever it is, it’s probably coming up and he’ll play,” Rivers said of Garnett’s timeframe for a possible return.
The Grizzlies officially announced the addition of former Celtics guard Keyon Dooling.
The 32-year-old Dooling retired from the Celtics last summer and then came back to serve as the team’s director of player development.
Dooling played in 46 games for the Celtics during the 2011-12 season, averaging 4 points in 14.4 minutes per game.
“I think he has something left,” Rivers said. “I thought Keyon played great last year for us.’’ I thought he was disruptive for us defensively. He’s been sitting out all year, so he should have whatever he had left – left.”
Terrence Williams tore through the Pistons’ defense for a thunderous dunk early in the second quarter, showing the aggression Rivers has asked of him recently.
Williams finished with those 2 points, and added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 13 minutes off the bench.
“I think Terrence is playing just terrific basketball for us right now,” Rivers said. “He’s kind of taking hold of his position. He understands that he’s a point guard, maybe for the first time in his life, and he wants to be that.”
Before the game, Rivers described how he wants the 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound Williams to play.
“Terrence has a body that he needs to use, in my opinion,” Rivers said. “That’s what I tell him all the time, ‘God gave you this gigantic huge body and you’re a point guard, then play like you are a big gigantic point guard and not a small guard.’ ”
Good for Green
Even though Lawrence Frank was on the opposing sideline as the coach of the Pistons, he couldn’t help but feel good for Jeff Green, who scored 34 points.
“You know, Jeff’s a very, very good player, and I think what you’ve seen, he got off to a tough start last year and obviously he had major, major life-threatening surgery last year,” said Frank, referencing Green’s open-heart operation.
“And obviously Jeff is a high-character guy, so you’re kind of always like, ‘Well, I didn’t like to see him do well tonight, but by and large, every other game you pull for him, especially with what he went through.”
Said Rivers: “I think a lot of guys are cheering for Jeff. They want him to do well; Chris [Wilcox] too. Our league, it’s funny. We hate each other, we hate the opponent, but then when a guy goes down you really want them to get back healthy and do well.’’ I mean, on every team.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes