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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Pierce's best dunks of the season

By Greg Payne

Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDeer in the highlights: Paul Pierce creates his latest poster dunk Sunday in Milwaukee.
The photo above tells the whole story. In what has been his most high-flying season in recent memory, Paul Pierce delivered a vicious one-handed jam against in Miilwaukee Sunday night, leaving the Bucks team picture as the background for the poster shot. Pierce has been credited with 25 dunks for the Celtics stat keepers this season and here's a look at the most impressive of the bunch, starting with his showstopper against the Bucks:

--March 6, 2011: Deer in the highlights--
With 6:27 remaining the third quarter of Sunday night's 89-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics captain Paul Pierce unleashed a lethal between-the-legs crossover on Milwaukee's Corey Maggette from just above the three-point arc on the right wing. With Maggette off balance, Pierce sliced into the lane, planted his left foot just outside the restricted circle beneath the basket, and skied up, throwing down a thunderous right-handed dunk as four helpless Buck defenders could do nothing but stop and stare.



If this were two or three seasons ago, such a slam might have instantly earned the in-game dunk of the year for Pierce, since the occurrences were so few and far between. But this season, that dunk against the Bucks was simply one of many emphatic throwdowns Pierce has unleashed this season.

These haven't been your grandma's dunks, either, as Pierce hasn't taken any prisoners during his assaults on the rim that have resulted in a steady stream of downright vicious slams. The 33-year-old Pierce is dunking as if the clock has been turned back a decade, and he's once again the spry forward fresh out of Kansas. He's back to posterizing players this season; He's doing it with both hands; He's doing it on the fast break and in the halfcourt.

So, without further ado, let's take a look back at some of Pierce's most highlight-worthy dunks from the first 61 games of the season:

--March 2, 2011: You want Frye(s) with that left-handed jam?--
There was some added satisfaction behind this Pierce dunk over the Phoenix Suns' Channing Frye in light of the recent history between he and Kevin Garnett. Things were heated in both meetings between the Celtics and Suns this season, and while the Suns did a whole lot of talking, Pierce chose action over words and sent quite the message as he slammed this one over Frye with his left hand.



--Feb. 16, 2011: Pierce doesn't do him any Favors--
In the Celtics' final game before the All-Star break, Pierce, nursing minor hand and foot ailments, put any injury talk to rest as he drove past Travis Outlaw on the right side and threw down this right-handed slam on the rotating Derrick Favors.



--Oct. 20, 2010: Pierce in need of a little Petro--
Pierce's stream of dunks dates all the way back to the pre-season with this fast break slammer over New Jersey's Johan Petro off of the give-and-go from Rajon Rondo. Needless to say, Pierce hasn't been very kind to the Nets this season. In retrospect, we probably should have taken this one as a sign of things to come.



--Dec. 22, 2010: Who did this to you, Lou?--
The 76ers have served as one of the tougher opponents for the Celtics this season, and they nearly stole a victory at TD Garden back in December. With his team needing a spark, Pierce tipped away a Lou Williams pass, nearly lost it out of bounds on the right side, corralled it, and charged at the rim with a full head of steam. While he could have dished it off to a streaking Nate Robinson for what would have been a fairly easy layup attempt, Pierce decided to keep the ball himself, and he rose up for the vicious slam over Williams, posterizing the helpless Philadelphia guard in the process.



--Nov. 19, 2010: Future teammate doesn't know what hit him--
Nenad Krstic now wears a Celtic uniform, but back in November, he was just another Oklahoma City defender impeding Pierce's path to the basket. Pierce curled off a screen set by Kevin Garnett and took off from the middle of the lane, rattling the rim with this right-handed slam past Krstic's outstretched arm. Krstic doesn't have to worry about defending Pierce's dunks anymore, unless he's caught on the wrong end of things in practice.



--Jan. 2, 2011: Pierce throws down over two Raptors--
What is arguably the best has to be saved for last, of course. In the first game of the 2011 calendar year for Boston, Pierce took a handoff from Rondo at the top of the arc, drove left towards the lane and skyrocketed up before throwing down a monster right-handed jam over Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey. If you watch closely, Pierce actually takes off from just outside the restricted circle on the left side, and nearly lands in the exact same spot on the opposite side when he comes back down. Pierce's brief swagger walk right after was well-earned, and the Celtics eventually came away with a 93-79 victory.



Greg Payne is a student intern for ESPNBoston.com