WALTHAM — When Marquis Daniels  eventually returns to game action, he shouldn’t be that much out of breath.
That’s because the most versatile player on the roster has been put through a strict running program to make sure he’s in shape once his surgically repaired left thumb is ready for game action.
‘I think they did a good job of running me,” Daniels said . “I’ve turned into Forrest Gump a little bit. I’m glad to be back. It feels like the first day of school, very excited. I’m just ready to get back out there and play and be a part of the team and just feel more wanted out there. Hopefully, I can another good practice in and maybe [play] Sunday.’
And while he wasn’t doing much running on Thursday in practice (see below), he was busy learning new plays that coach Doc Rivers  has installed in his 27-game absence.
‘He put a couple more sets in, but for the most part it’s pretty much the same thing. I just have to learn three positions, the point guard, the 2 and the 3. It’s coming along pretty simple, so hopefully I can pick them up by next practice.’
That next practice will be Saturday, meaning it’s highly unlikely he plays ‘ or is needed for that matter ‘ against New Jersey on Friday. When he does, he wants to be sure his thumb is ready for a hit. If he can take a hit in practice, he believes he’ll be game-ready.
‘Just getting hit,” Daniels said Thursday. “Everything else is pretty much mental. I think my conditioning is OK. It’s not the best, but it’s the best it can be without playing basketball. Other than that, once I get that first hit on it, I think I’ll be OK.’
Rivers spent nearly 30 minutes with Daniels and the second unit at the end of practice as he tries to help Daniels get back to speed in time for a possible weekend return to action.
After several days of shooting and basketball-related drills, Thursday marked Daniels’ first practice back with the team.
Daniels said the biggest hurdle for him will be taking a blow to the thumb, which was wrapped in white protective bandage for his first practice back.
‘It wasn’t a great practice for him,” Rivers said. “We didn’t do a lot. We didn’t do really anything live, so it wasn’t a great practice for him. Just trying to get him some rhythm, which is good.’
Rivers added that he doubts Daniels will be ready to play against New Jersey on Friday but more likely set for a Sunday return against Orlando.