Celtic Fans have long become accustomed to Paul Pierce making clutch shots and carrying the team through tough stretches. While Paul has gotten older, maybe lost a step, and is showing some inconsistencies shooting the rock, no one will ever question his ability to hit the clutch shot.
Last night was just one example in a long list of game saving buckets from The Truth, but what he has done on the court for the Celtics since Rondo’s injury has been incredible as he is the backbone of this team. While KG is the heart of the C’s, no one does the heavy lifting or puts the team on their back quite like the captain does. In this Atlantic Division Roundup, I’ll look at the captain for the red-hot Celtics, who seem to be defying all logic, as well as a few notes from the rest of the teams in the Atlantic.
This season will likely be the first time Paul Pierce misses an all-star game since 2007 when he was injured, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t playing well enough to be added to the east squad. With news out today that Bulls center Joakim Noah may skip the event, Pierce’s chance of being called upon have skyrocketed. Regardless of what happens with the potential roster opening, Pierce has been an all around force during the winning streak.
During the 7 game winning streak the Celtics have enjoyed since Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL, Pierce has averaged 18.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. While Pierce has only shot slightly over 42% from the field during the winning streak, many of the shots he has taken are at the end of a shot clock in isolation. As the default point-forward when he is on the floor, Pierce is called upon to set up front court mates Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass for mid range jumpers as well as the distance shooters on the floor in Bradley, Terry and Lee. All of the ball movement and penetration that Pierce causes was on full display on Sunday. The Celtics halted the Nuggets 9 game winning streak, defeating Denver in a triple overtime heart-pounding game. Pierce showed off his versatile game going for 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists, good for his second triple double during the winning streak and his 5th game with double digit rebounds in that same span. Filling in for Rondo is no easy task but Pierce has crashed the boards harder and shown an ability to create for his teammates in a way that he was not allowed to do earlier in the season with Rondo controlling the ball.
There is no way that this team is better without Rajon, but they are playing with more ball movement and more energy since he went down. Are the Celtics contenders in the East? All I know is that no one wants to meet this team in a playoff series. When you’ve got the Truth on your side, “Anything is Possible!!!!”
Other Notes From around the Atlantic:
The New York Knicks have lost 2 of 3 after winning 5 in a row. One of those two losses was against the lowly Wizards. This team needs to show more consistency for me to believe they can truly compete. Tyson Chandler has been averaging over 15 boards a game in February.
The Brooklyn Nets continue to struggle in loosing 3 of their last 4 and 6 of 10. No one other than Brook Lopez is giving them consistent minutes. They need to make a trade and fast. No one believes this team is a true contender right now. Ownership is not pleased. There is so much talent here, but as of now, it has not come together as Billy King imagined it would.
The Raptors are a lot of fun to watch now. Almost everyone is healthy and while Bargnani may be a traded, this is the team that could be together for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure if they have enough to make up the ground and sneak into the playoffs, but Kyle Lowry, Derozan, Gay, Johnson, and Valanciunas is a good lineup with Ross, Bargnani, Lucas, and Gray coming off the bench. I’m a fan.
Apparently Andrew Bynum will play in February. wait WHAT!? Yep, we could see the actual 76ers soon. The anticipation is killing me.
Alright that’s all for today. Feel free to comment below…This division has a lot of storylines, are the Knicks a clear cut favorite? Do the Celtics really have a shot? Can the Raptors sneak into the playoffs? What is wrong with Nets?