March 18, 2013

Pierce showing that he's the rudder for Celtics

Two recent games against Charlotte helped show the difference Paul Pierce makes for the Celtics.

By STEVE BULPETT Boston Herald

BOSTON - His nickname is The Truth, his title is captain, and his position is forward. But perhaps it is more descriptive to refer to Paul Pierce as the Celtics' rudder.

Paul Pierce
click image to enlarge

Paul Pierce

MONDAY'S GAME

WHO: Celtics vs. Miami Heat

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: TD Garden

TELEVISION: CSN, ESPN

OF NOTE: The Heat have won 22 straight, the Celtics 11 straight at home

Even though he leads the club in scoring, he doesn't always post the biggest numbers, and sometimes the best thing he does is create space for others to be more spectacular.

But a little Paul Pierce can go a long way, as the Celts most certainly rediscovered in a pair of games against the Bobcats last week.

He was held out for rest in Tuesday's 26-point loss in Charlotte -- the Celtics' worst performance of the season -- and while it would be inappropriate to lay that dribbling debacle entirely at the feet of his absence, the Celtics were stunningly without direction.

On Saturday night, Pierce was on the floor for 23 minutes, and he managed to squeeze in 14 points, six rebounds and a game-high eight assists. It may be impossible to completely atone for that loss to the worst team in the NBA, but with Pierce setting a proper tone, the Celts led by as many as 26 on the way to a 105-88 victory over Charlotte.

Charlotte Coach Mike Dunlap stood in the hallway after his 52nd loss of the season and graciously listed the way Pierce can pierce an opponent.

"There are three things in terms of the offensive side of the ball," Dunlap said. "He plays up top, and they use the pick and roll up there nice. And then when he's not going up top, then he'll post you. And then the third part of his game are easy baskets, free-throws. He's inevitably going to get to the free-throw line.

"He's much like (Carmelo Anthony). He's diverse in how he does things, and he can get some cheap ones off the offensive boards."

Then the coach got to the heart of the matter -- the stuff that isn't on the stat sheet but most certainly finds its way into the final score.

"The other thing," said Dunlap, "is that obviously he's going to be a Hall of Famer, and two is he just settles the entire team down. He has a very calm disposition, and he doesn't get too high or too low. That's been his career.

"He's just a salty dog warrior."

Doubtful that will be replacing Truth as Pierce's nickname any time soon, but a few moments later, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers was calling his guy something else. "He's always been underrated," said Rivers. "I think he's been underrated his whole career.

"I underrated him. Really. I told you that. When I coached in Orlando, every time he scored, I was so upset because I thought this slow, non-athletic guy -- you look at him and you think, how the heck is he scoring on you?

"And then when you coach him, you realize he's not slow. He plays at a slow pace. He's athletic as heck, he's stronger than most small forwards in the league, and he just surprises you with his fundamentals. He's so fundamentally sound, he actually looks unathletic. And it's a heck of a compliment to a player."

Rivers paused.

"He's a professional scorer," he went on. "He really is. He just knows how to play basketball. I think every young kid should watch him play, because he can do it above the rim, but he chooses not to. He's just so fundamentally sound with his footwork.

"It's just really nice to watch."

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


 

Blogs

More PPH Blogs

2014 Boston Marathon

 

High School Football 2013

Fall sports photos