There’s a number of guys we look to virtually every night to put a team on their back, make stuff happen with a supporting cast that can charitably be described as not-quite-ring-material. Kobe, A.I., Ray Allen, and LeBron all come to mind.
But over the past month, has anyone carried a club the way Paul Pierce has the Boston Celtics? The Globe’s Peter May takes stock of The Truth’s recent performances, many of ’em right after a trade deadline in which he was rumored to be on the move.
It’s pretty hard to imagine Pierce being better than he is right now. He is on a scoring tear unseen in the storied history of the Celtics’ franchise, having now scored 30 or more points in 13 of the last 14 games. He led the league in points scored in February. He is the only player in the NBA to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
He is one of two players in the league to score 15 or more points in every game (Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson is the other) and yet, Rivers says, ”it’s not the points that I’ve been impressed with. He’s a great scorer. He’s a great scorer every night. It’s the other things that he’s done for this team that just keeps giving us hope that we know, at this level, and with the things we can add, that we can be a good basketball team in the near future.”
That’s because, in the precious present, the Celtics are not a very good basketball team. Despite all of Pierce’s heroics, including his dramatic buzzer-beater Tuesday night in Washington and his 12-point fourth quarter last night, the Celtics are in 10th place in a weak conference. Pierce needs help all right. He needs Hoop 911, or else one of the greatest individual seasons in Celtics history will end on the final day of the regular season. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.
That is the double-edged sword in the whole Pierce saga this season — he’s playing the best basketball of his life for a team that, record-wise, might end up being the worst one he’s ever played on. He says that does not bother him, although you think it has to be killing him.