- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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AP Photo/John Bazemore
Can Paul Pierce maintain his numbers during the 2012-13 campaign?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign.
Today's target: Celtics captain Paul Pierce.
Minutes per game: 32
* Forsberg: Under. His age will exceed his jersey number before the regular season tips off (Pierce turns 35 on Oct. 13) and, given the nagging bumps and bruises that have plagued him in recent seasons, its seems more important than ever for the Celtics to exercise the same sort of caution with Pierce as they do with Kevin Garnett. With a healthy Jeff Green and the potential to get some minutes out of Courtney Lee at the 3, Pierce's minutes have a good chance to dip this season with the goal of keeping him healthy.
* Payne: Under. Pierce has never played fewer than 34 minutes per game in his NBA career, but with Green back, ready to go, and Boston's only legitimate reserve option at small forward, Pierce will see a slight decline in minutes, which should be a blessing in disguise come playoff time.
* Forsberg: Over. Despite a woeful year shooting the ball last season (Pierce's field goal percentage plummeted from a career-high 49.7 percent to a below-career-average 44.3 percent). The achilles injury to start the season (as well as the knee woes in the postseason) didn't aid Pierce's offensive cause, and yet he still increased his scoring to 19.4 points pe game. He shouldn't have to carry as much of a lod next season, but his scoring has never gone below 18.3 points per game with Kevin Garnett alongside.
* Payne: Over. The C's are reloaded, and Rajon Rondo owns the team now, but Pierce, even at his age, is still the team's best all-around offensive player. He'll still finish with an average between 18 and 19 points.
3-point percentage: 37.5
* Forsberg: Over. After shooting a career-best 41.4 percent in 2009-10, Pierce's numbers have come crashing back down the last two seasons (37.4 percent in 2011; 36.6 percent in 2012). It seems impossible that his percentage won't jump back up this season, particularly with more offensive weapons added (including ones like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee that will help stretch and open the floor).
* Payne: Over. Pierce will probably average somewhere around four 3-pointers per game, but if he comes into camp in shape with his legs under him (which he will), and remains healthy for the majority of the season, he'll keep the number closer to 40 percent.
* Forsberg: Over. Pierce hasn't gone over 20 in the Big Three era, but he's been banging on the door a few times (including an average 19.7 the last two seasons). Even with less minutes, it's not unreasonable to expect a more efficient Pierce. This is the year he gets back over the hump.
* Payne: Under. Pierce hasn't shown many signs of slowing down as he's gotten older, defying NBA logic in the process. He'll probably see minor drops in his scoring average and possibly his shooting percentage, but his efficiency the last few seasons has been considerable, and there's no reason to think that can't continue.
Your turn: Offer your over/under predictions in the comments section. Hop HERE to read the full over/under series.
14hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
2dESPN Stats and Information Group
4dESPN Stats & Information