Key Dates Spark Pierce's Resurgence
BOSTON – The NBA announced its list of 14 All-Star reserves on Thursday, Jan. 24. Paul Pierce’s name was not on that list for the first time in 11 years.
Can we get a re-vote?
Pierce must have taken his absence on that list as an insult. Ever since that date, he’s been playing like he’s on a mission to prove every one of his negligent voters wrong.
We’d like to take a moment to proclaim that he’s doing a very good job.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Doc Rivers said of his red-hot captain. “He’s played himself onto the All-Star team except for people have voted already.”
Our guess is that if those votes could be resubmitted today Pierce would overwhelmingly be voted onto the squad. Why? Let his numbers do the talking.
There have been nine Celtics games since the league’s All-Star announcement and Pierce has excelled in each and every one of them. Does 18.4 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game and two triple-doubles sound All-Star worthy to you? Yeah, thought so.
Pierce’s stretch of masterful play continued Sunday night when he downed the Nuggets – which had previously been the NBA’s hottest team – with his most recent effervescent performance. Denver watched Pierce tally a triple-double that consisted of a team high 27 points, 14 rebounds and a game-high 14 helpers. Those numbers, coupled with a 3-pointer that defied all odds at the end of the second overtime, sent the Celtics into the win column at the conclusion of a triple-overtime thriller.
Denver’s supreme length and athleticism did not prove to be the answer for Boston’s scorching captain. To be honest, the Nuggets shouldn’t lose any sleep over that. No one has any answers for Pierce right now. Not even the self-proclaimed King.
Yeah, we’re talking about you, LeBron James. James is the league’s reigning MVP and is known around the world for his otherworldly stats, athleticism and ability to dominate opposing forwards. Pierce, however, got the best of James on Jan. 27 when he racked up a triple-double of 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Celtics to a victory over the defending champion Heat.
That triumph over Miami took place on Jan. 27, which happened to be the day that the Celtics found out that they had lost Rajon Rondo for the season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. The Celtics haven’t lost since that date, and Pierce is the main reason why.
Rondo’s absence has made Pierce the de facto point forward in Boston’s offensive system. Ball movement is critical, but nearly all of the offense is being run through Pierce. That’s a role that the 15-year veteran is thriving in.
“He’s just got great rhythm,” Rivers said of Pierce after Thursday’s blowout win over the Lakers, which featured 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists from No. 34. “The ball’s in his hands far more, which helps him.”
It is apparently benefiting the rest of the Celtics, too. Pierice’s all-around game has sparked a fire under guys like Jason Terry and Jeff Green, whose respective seasons had mirrored a roller coaster prior to Pierce’s resurgence. Pierce is picking up his play in the absence of Rondo and his teammates are following suit.
“Roles expand,” Pierce said Sunday night. “I know what I’m capable of, but when you have a guy like Rondo, not as much is needed from you because you have another guy who can do so many things also. So I think with him out the roles are gonna change.
“I’m gonna be more of a facilitator for this ball club,” Pierce continued, “and you know it’s gotta come from not only me, it’s gotta come from a number of guys. You see other guys being able to step up – we’re scoring more.”
And winning more. The Celtics have reeled off an NBA-best seven consecutive wins since Jan. 27. They are 9-2 since Pierce got word on Jan. 24 that he would not be a part of All-Star weekend for the first time in more than a decade.
That snub lit a fire under Pierce’s britches. Gas was sprayed onto that fire when Rondo was lost for the season just three days later. Everything that has opposed Pierce since those two key dates has been burnt to a crisp.
Maybe we should give Pierce the ballots that were returned for this year’s All-Star reserves. Those should go up in flames at this point anyway.