AP Photo/Jim Prisching
Paul Pierce gets up a shot earlier this season.Fresh off of scoring 18 points in Boston's 104-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, Celtics captain Paul Pierce phoned into Boston sports radio WEEI (click HERE to listen) on Thursday afternoon to discuss the state of the team, Rajon Rondo's recent suspension, Doc Rivers' "soft" comments, and what he plans on getting old friend Ray Allen for Christmas this year. Here are some of the highlights from Pierce's interview:
On Wednesday's win being one of the best efforts of the season: "I think so. I think throughout the season we've done things for stretches where we've rebounded for stretches, where we've played defense for stretches, and other than the turnover yesterday, I thought, for the most part, we moved the ball, we fast breaked, we rebounded the ball, we stuck to our defensive principles, and we got the job done against one of the better rebounding teams in the league and one of the better defensive teams in the league, especially with Kevin Love out there. I really like the direction we're headed."
On taking the regular season seriously leading up to the playoffs: "Well the key is not to get too frustrated. You've got to understand what the end of the goal is. Right now we're building, and you've got to understand the building phase, you might have slip ups here and there, and you've got to be able to deal with it. You can't get too frustrated, you can't get down, you can't let your confidence waver. And the key is, the things that you see in practice, things that we're seeing in games with the potential, and understanding what we're capable of when we put it all together. Sometimes it comes quicker than others, sometimes it doesn't. But I think with this team we definitely have the potential. Record-wise, we're not where we want to be at this point. But we know that in the long run we're going to get better and better and the end result is the only thing that counts."
Reading on for more on Rondo's suspension and what he's getting Avery Bradley for Christmas:
On whether he agreed with Doc calling the Celtics a soft team last week: "Yeah, I would agree we were playing that way. But sometimes coaches have got to do what they've got to do. If that means calling a team soft or whatever, if it's going to push guys' buttons, which I think it really did -- you heard the way Kevin responded to it and some of these other guys responded. Nobody likes to be called soft. So, coaches are always trying to find ways to motivate their teams, push their buttons, and I definitely think he pushed a few of our buttons around here to go out there and prove to him that this is not a soft ballclub. We've been built on grit and grind, defensive-minded team who likes to be physical, and by no means we want to be called soft."
On Rondo's suspension; sticking up for a teammate or not understanding his own value?: "I think it's a combination of [sticking up for a teammate and realizing how valuable he is to the team]. He was sticking up for a teammate. Yeah, I think he understands how valuable he is. But then you get into the game and emotions go flying sometimes, and you know Rondo, he's an emotional player, and he did some things maybe he shouldn't have done that maybe cost us a win. But I think in the long run, he's going to understand how valuable he is to us and, you know, get it out the way now, because we don't need that happening in the playoffs."
On the new NBA pregame rules affecting the Celtics' starts in games: "I don't know. Truthfully, I think we've gotten off to great starts, it's just after that first five minutes is where we slow down, when Kevin comes out of the game. Now we're doing things a lot faster. In the timeouts, we have to call the plays in the locker room before we go out there, because we do have time restriction. But I think we've been doing a good job of getting out to fast starts. I think we just slow down after, like, the first five minutes, and we've got to do a better job of maintaining that."
On the Spurs' recent fine by the NBA and whether he'd let Doc Rivers send him home: "Yeah, he'll definitely get some fight back from me, because [Miami is] the team that put us out of the Eastern Conference Finals, and I always want to play against them. I can understand if I had an injury or I was sick or kid on the way or something like that, it's more understandable. But, if I'm healthy and I'm able to go, I want to be out there..."I'm going to be like, 'Doc, I can't agree with you on that. I'll get on this plane, and then we're going to figure it out when we get there, but I'm definitely getting on this plane."
On what he plans on getting Ray Allen for Christmas and who his Secret Santa is: "Ray didn't make my Christmas list this year and for my Secret Santa, I've got Avery Bradley, so maybe I can get him a new pair of shoulders."