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The Captain. The Man. The Truth.
Paul Pierce has embodied everything Celtics since his arrival as the No. 10 pick back in 1998. First, he paired with Antoine Walker to form the Dynamic Duo that actually made some noise in the playoffs. Then, he led a Celtics team as it’s only star and only capable scoring option (no, Ricky Davis does not count).
Then, amidst trade rumors and thoughts about where his career was going, Paul Pierce was thrilled when GM Danny Ainge rolled the dice and dealt every single trading chip for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Together, Pierce, KG, and Ray Ray became the “New Three” and also became NBA Champions.
Pierce had an all-star campaign during the historic 2007-08 season, averaging 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.3 steals. He started all but two games during the regular season as the Celtics finished an NBA-best 66-16, earning them home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
The Truth performed best on a national stage, as it seemed as every big game came he stepped up with an even better performance than the last. Not only did his statistics improve through each playoff series, but so did his play on the court.
Overall in 26 playoff games, Pierce averaged 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. He earned national praise for his exceptional play in series-clinching games, averaging 26.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in Game 7 wins against the Hawks and Cavaliers, and Game 6 wins against the Pistons and Lakers.
His biggest game of the playoffs came in his duel for the ages against LeBron James in Game 7 of the Cavs-Celtics series. Pierce scored 41 points and LeBron carried his team with 45, but Pierce prevailed in the instant-classic.
Pierce and the rest of the gang looked like they really enjoyed winning the NBA Championship, so I bet they’d like to do it again. They expended a lot of energy last season, winning 66 games in the regular season and winning 16 of 26 games in the playoffs, in all playing an NBA-record 108 games.
I think the team can make another exciting playoff run, but to do so they’re going to need Pierce every step of the way. Not everyone can turn in those gutsy performances in the playoffs.