Celtics: Paul Pierce
FACT: The Celtics would be highly unlikely to sign Pierce to a new contract for the 2013-14 season after waiving him before June 30th due to their salary cap situation.
Remember all that committed money Ainge has on the books for next year? That’s incredibly limiting in this situation. If the C’s wanted to bring back Pierce on a smaller deal for 2013-14 after waiving him, they probably wouldn’t be able to do it, since without bird rights on Pierce, there is no real flexibility to sign him. The mid-level exception would be available, but Pierce is likely to command much more than that on the open market. Plus, it’s unclear if the team would even want to use an exception like that on Pierce when they don’t have to. However you slice it, unless Danny does so major wheeling and dealing of the rest of the roster to create salary cap room, this scenario isn’t happening.
FICTION: The Celtics will use the amnesty clause on Paul Pierce
Even if you put aside the bad vibes about amnestying a Celtics legend, doing this to Pierce really doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics, unless it’s accompanied by a couple other moves, that clear MAJOR cap space. Those scenarios are highly unlikely to happen, for a multitude of reasons I will get into in later posts this offseason. Without that possibility, amnestying Pierce still leaves Ainge at the cap ($58 million roughly) and provides ownership having to pay a fat check for a good player to play somewhere else. It’s not happening.
Robb and I disagree a bit on the idea that the amnesty clause is completely out of play. If the team is going to go the nuclear route, it can't worry about hurt feelings and has to look out for the best long-term interest of the team. Sure, it potentially exposes ownership to being on the hook for more than the $5 million guarantee it would owe if the team simply waived Pierce (part of Pierce's $15.3 million salary would be defrayed by a team that signed him), but it has to be considered when coupled with other potential moves to completely overhaul the roster. All that said, the amnesty route likely remains a long-shot option as trading Pierce would clearly be the preferred option if the team desires to move on without him. Regardless, check out the article for plenty of excellent insight into a sticky situation for Boston and its future direction.
Player: Paul Pierce
2012-13 averages: 18.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 33.4 mpg, 43.6 FG%, 38.0 3PT%
2012-13 salary: $16.8 million
Rajon Rondo's injury. Yes, Pierce struggled offensively, shooting 43.6 percent from the floor (his worst number in a decade), but he often flirted -- and registered -- triple-doubles after Rondo tore his ACL, doing his typical "giving the game what it needs" routine to keep Boston afloat without its only pure point guard. Even at age 35, Pierce had a fantastic defensive season and posted the best rebounding numbers of his career. He was the regular-season MVP of the Celtics yet again.
Season highlight: On the day the Celtics learned that Rondo had torn his ACL, Pierce went out and posted a triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) in a double-overtime win over the East-leading Miami Heat. Pierce went on to spend the entire month of February flirting with triple-doubles, and a triple-overtime win over the Denver Nuggets saw him finish with an eye-popping stat line of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
Season lowlight: Pierce's offensive game abandoned him for much of the postseason, most notably in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round series with the New York Knicks. With Boston looking to rally all the way back from a 3-0 deficit, Pierce misfired on 14 of 18 shots (missing eight of nine 3-pointers) and turned the ball over five times while scoring just 14 points as Boston's season ended last week at TD Garden. Pierce shot 26.8 percent beyond the 3-point arc in the playoffs and didn't get to the free throw line with nearly as much consistency as he did in the regular season.
Final grade: B
Teacher's notes: Pierce had an atrocious postseason by his standards, shooting a mere 36.8 percent and owning an unsightly turnover rate of 21.2 percent (he was completely frazzled by New York's trapping at times). Going by Synergy Sports numbers, Pierce averaged 0.767 points per play in the postseason, ranking him in just the 21st percentile among all playoff competitors (for the regular season, Pierce averaged 0.947 points per play, ranking in the 69th percentile). On the positive side, during the regular season, Pierce posted the best defensive rebound percentage (19.7) and total rebound percentage (11.2) of his 15-year career. He also matched his career mark in assist percentage (25.1, also done in 2003-04). None of this makes what lies ahead any easier for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
What's next? Pierce is scheduled to make $15.3 million in the final year of a four-year extension inked after the 2009-10 season. The deal is only $5 million guaranteed and Boston has its amnesty clause available, which should make the team think hard about its direction moving forward. During an appearance on WEEI on Thursday, Ainge noted about Pierce, "There's a lot that will go into [deciding to bring back Pierce], but it hasn't even started yet. We have until June 30 to make any decision. Listen, Paul's been one of the greatest Celtics of all time and that will play a part in it. We love what he's done for us, but ultimately we have to do what we think is the best for us from this point forward and I think that Paul still has a lot of basketball left in him." The question is whether that basketball will be played in Boston. Those in a rush to run Pierce out of town after a lackluster postseason will be yearning for his all-around efforts once he's gone. To hammer that home: Boston was plus-123 overall in plus/minus this season with him on the floor and minus-141 when he was on the bench. Despite his personal struggles, Boston's offense was six points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor (offensive rating of 103.1) than when he was not (97.2). An extended offseason should be good for Pierce, who said he battled a pinched nerve in his neck for much of the 2012-13 season.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Pierce's 2012-13 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
One thing Pierce knows for sure is that he wants to play at least one more season and he'll examine his future from there. The question is whether he'll be back in Boston for the 2013-14 campaign.
Pierce is scheduled to make $15.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $61.3 million extension inked in 2010. But only $5 million of that is guaranteed, which makes it no guarantee the Celtics bring him back for a 16th season with the team. Boston could also ponder using its amnesty clause if it desired to initiate a roster makeover.
"Truthfully, I haven't put too much thought into [the future]," Pierce said at the team's morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics and Knicks clash in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round series on Wednesday night.
"The organization is going to do what they're going to do. There's nothing that's stressing me out. That's what it is. Every year they've got decisions to make and those are their decisions. So I'll leave it to them."
Pierce said he'll take a hands-off approach with Boston's decision and is at peace with whatever his future holds.
"I've always been a guy that said, 'Things happen for a reason,'" said Pierce. "I was the No. 10 pick [in the 1998 draft], I didn't anticipate that. I've just always felt like, throughout my whole career, everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So I don't really put much thought into after the season. But I know at the end of the day, whatever they do, whatever I do, it's going to fall in the right place for me."
Pierce reaffirmed a desire to play his entire career in Boston and said it's likely that -- one way or another -- he'll finish his career in green.
"Well, I always said I want to end my career as a Celtic," said Pierce. "But they're the ones -- I have a contract for next year, but it's not guaranteed. So the decision is in their hands. Whatever decisions they make, maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it can be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire a Celtic."
Pierce's more immediate focus is on Game 5. Boston staved off elimination by winning Game 4 at TD Garden, but the Celtics know New York, which owns a 3-1 series lead, will be looking for a knockout punch Wednesday night on its home turf.
"They're going to amped up, their crowd, they're going to be emotionally into it," said Pierce. "They feel like they've got an opportunity here at home, so I think that's going to be the early focus, to withstand their early run. We know that we're going to take hits, but we've got to be able to hit back in the early stages, and we've got to maintain that through the four quarters."
With the Boston Celtics on the brink of playoff elimination, allow this to serve as your annual reminder to savor what could possibly be the final time Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett share the Garden floor together.
I know, I know. We've been here before in each of the past few seasons. But last year we saw the end of the Big Three era when Ray Allen defected to rival Miami. With each passing season, it seems the likelihood of a potentially larger roster overhaul grows. Maybe more so this season, given that these Celtics are on the verge of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistencies.
Rajon Rondo, huddled in the shower area inside the team's locker room at TD Garden for a lengthy confab after a Game 3 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday night put Boston in an 0-3 hole.
Was it a gabfest about how the Celtics could pull off the biggest comeback in NBA history? Or was it a trip down memory lane for a championship trio that knew it might never share that sort of moment again?
Neither Pierce nor Garnett was available to the media during Saturday's off-day availability. Both did speak after Game 3 and weren't overly maudlin, keeping the focus on what went wrong and how to reverse the momentum of the series in Sunday's Game 4.
The frustration wasn't from being over-burdened with responsibilities -- as head coach Doc Rivers suggested he was during the first two games -- but from the fact that he finally had some help in Game 3 yet still couldn't produce the kind of night that Boston needed from him to get itself back into this series.
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsPierce finished with 17 points, but shot just 6-of-15 from the field and committed five costly turnovers.
And that's what has to be eating at Pierce the most. In a game that saw Boston's offense remain as meager as it was in Games 1 and 2 -- Boston scored just 31 points in the first half -- there was actually some semblance of balance, as Pierce was joined in double figures by Jeff Green (21), Jason Terry (14), and Kevin Garnett (12).
But none of them shot a particularly high percentage, especially Pierce in the first half, when the game slipped away from Boston. Pierce shot just 2-of-10 over the first two quarters, certainly playing a role in the Celtics' lackluster offense. He missed jump shots, he missed on layup bids, he didn't attempt a single free throw, and he missed crucial, potentially momentum-swinging, 3-pointers. Boston entered halftime facing a 47-31 deficit that it would never have a chance at overcoming.
"I just know we missed some great shots," Rivers said afterward. "Paul misses a layup, Kevin misses a layup, (Terry) misses a point-blank layup -- we missed three or four wide-open shots. And you've just got to be mentally tougher."
On whether he expects Kevin Garnett to be limited, physically, in Friday's Game 3: "No, listen, I think KG expects to be at his best tomorrow night. I don't know, he looked good in practice (Thursday), he's moving well, and I expect KG to be good (Friday)."
On whether not having a true point guard is hurting the Celtics right now: "I think those are just excuses. We've known this. We've been preparing for the playoffs for a few months. I think that we have what we have and we've got to do the best with it. I guess that right now I just don't think that we've played like we were capable of playing. I mean, it's one thing to lose to a team that deserves to beat you and is a better team. But I feel like we've come out ready to play, and for whatever reason, I have no idea, but the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good."
On whether the Celtics are unsure of what plays to run without Rajon Rondo: "Well we've had an opportunity to play a lot of games without Rondo. But, listen, if you just look around, this has been going on for 30 years. It's no secret. Great players at this time really step it up and our guy that was our best player last year in the playoffs, a guy that had 44 at Miami, that got us to the position that we were, that has been the MVP of multiple playoff series over the last handful of years -- not just playoff games, but playoff series -- he's a guy that's certainly capable of being the best guy on the court on any given night. He's a terrific player and we certainly miss him. We've been saying that all year long."
Pressed on whether the Celtics are unsure of what plays to run without Rondo: "Right, but, you know, I think that that's a little blown out of proportion, just because, hey, we had these same challenges before. I mean, losing double-figure leads in the fourth quarter of games is not something that has just happened. This has been going on for three or four years and I wish I knew. Sometimes I think we put such an effort and emphasis on defense that our guys don't have the energy to keep cutting and moving and so forth without the ball in the fourth quarter. I don't know what it is, but it's not just a Rondo issue. Missing Rondo, like I said, he has the ability to take over games, as we've seen him do, against the elite players in the world, and we don't have a player like that. That hurts us. But, not knowing what to do or what plays to run, every team goes through that a little bit, but we should not be having that problem, no."
On whether the Celtics need to be tougher on offense or defense: "To me it's all an attitude. I think when you try to define whether your offense wins or your defense wins, it's attitude that wins. Your perspective and the way you play the game, and I think that offense takes care of itself, sometimes. So, both is the answer. You've got to create offense sometimes with your defense if you're struggling, and you've got to find a way. I'd liken it to a pitcher who doesn't have his best stuff. You've still got to get guys out. And we've got to find a way to get stops and get in the open court as much as we can. But, offensively we need to assert ourselves, we need to be more physical offensively."
On whether Paul Pierce is being asked to do too much and others need to contribute more: "Yes. I mean, I think Paul has taken four charges in two games. I'm not sure anyone else on the team has taken any. Paul is our leading scorer, he's carrying an offensive burden. Paul is, right now, our best player and our best scorer and he needs help. He needs other guys stepping up and he can't do it the whole game. It's a grind for him, and Paul, still, shows signs of being a great player. He's not as consistently great as he was five years ago, but he still is a fantastic player in this league and he's showing that in this playoff series."
On what the Celtics need to do to come back and win the series: "We've got to make shots. I mean, we've got to have contributions out of a lot of people. We can't do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don't have that kind of scoring power, we don't have the leading scorer in the NBA on our team right now. So, we've got to get contributions out of a lot of people."
In a series that has so far been defined by the Celtics' inability to score in the second half of games, Pierce has been asked not only to get his own points, but to initiate offense for his teammates as well as work on the defensive end against Carmelo Anthony and even the smaller and faster Raymond Felton. It's too much, according to Rivers, and it needs to change as the series shifts to Boston.
"We can be more creative, I have to be," Rivers said before practice on Thursday. "Because that’s just asking Paul to do too much. We're asking him to guard Carmelo at times, asking him to bring the ball up the floor at times, we’re asking him to be our post-passer, it’s -- listen, he’s Paul Pierce. He’s not Christopher Reeves."
In the opening two games in New York, Pierce averaged 19.5 points 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 points over 38.5 minutes, but shot just 41.2 percent from the field and a very un-Pierce-like 16.7 percent from 3-point nation. Rivers has worried that fatigue has played a role in Pierce's poor shooting percentages, particularly in the second half of games when Boston's offense has suffered the most. When he hasn't been defending Anthony, he's had to deal with the Felton matchup at times.
The Celtics knew there would be a trade-off if the Knicks went with a smaller lineup and Felton got the assignment on Pierce, but they haven't been able to exploit it as well as they would like to. Not only has Pierce been unable to take advantage of Felton as a smaller defender, but Felton has made him work extra hard on the defensive end as well.
"I don’t like (Pierce chasing Felton on defense), honestly, that’s hurt us a little bit, and we haven’t taken advantage of that on the other end because we don’t have the ball-handling to take advantage of it," Rivers said. "We’re getting it to him -- we’re getting the ball to guys, but it’s late and it’s off-target. Which throws them off, and so you’re really not getting it to them. That’s not being the way we’ve wanted it so far."
But Pierce having to worry about Felton at times, in addition to Anthony, hasn't stopped the Celtics from leaning on him for an offensive spark in the second half. The Celtics, as a team, averaged an appalling 24 points in the second half of their opening two games, and as the offense broke down, the focus shifted to Pierce to try to rectify the situation.
But Pierce shot a combined 6-of-17 from the field in the two second halves, and the team's production, or lack thereof, is proof that he alone cannot carry such a heavy burden.
Pierce knows the Celtics have a better chance if they can do a better job of taking advantage of his matchup with Felton.
"We've got to do a better job of taking advantage of it on the other end," Pierce said of Felton guarding him. "We have the advantage, we feel like, on that end with the smaller guys, but, at the same time, the Knicks are doing a good job of sending two or three guys and trapping, clogging up the lane, and it's working for them right now."
As for being asked to do too much in the first two games, Pierce, always the competitor, downplayed that idea on Thursday, suggesting he'll continue to try to do whatever the Celtics ask of him.
"I mean, that all comes with the job," Pierce said of being asked to do so much. "I wouldn't be asked of it if I wasn't capable. ... You understand that winning isn't easy. And I understand that part, so I expect hard."
But Rivers knows the Celtics can't lean on Pierce to bail them out of a team-wide issue.
"We're not going to put all that pressure on Paul," Rivers said. "If we’re asking Paul to score, to start the offense, and pass the ball, we’re going to struggle scoring. I mean one of our guys, he even gave me a list of guys who should throw the post pass and it was two guys, and I laughed and said, ‘Well, one of them is a post guy.’ I said, 'That narrows our choices a little bit.' "
Len Redkoles/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce tried to force things offensively at times, and just couldn't keep the Celtics in the game.
But in a game that saw Kevin Garnett battle foul trouble throughout, Green contribute a mere 10 points and the Celtics fall victim to some of the same problems on offense that hampered them in Game 1, Rivers summed up Pierce's night as trying to mask the team's many weak spots.
"He needs some help," Rivers said. "I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything."
The Celtics mustered just 23 second-half points in Tuesday's loss, the lowest second-half scoring output in franchise playoff history. Even more frustrating for the Celtics was how reminiscent it all was of Game 1, as a lack of ball movement and an aggressive Knicks defense hampered Boston's ability to put the ball in the basket.
Pierce wanted to keep his team in the game. He wanted to match Carmelo Anthony -- who scored a game-high 34 points -- shot for shot, isolation play for isolation play. But he couldn't, and it's unlikely that'll be how Boston fights its way back into this series, if it even can.
Boston's injury woes this season have essentially forced it to operate without a pure point guard, leaning on shoot-first guards like Bradley to shoulder some of the ball-handling duties. But as the NBA as a whole shifts away from a formulaic starting 5, Rivers seems content to put his five best players on the floor at the start of the game and deal with the shortcomings.
Rivers did note that matchup issues could force the Celtics to shift to a group that would pull another guard -- someone like Courtney Lee -- back onto the first unit. But the Celtics clearly see potential to create their own matchup issues by running a Pierce/Green combo at the swingman spots.
A few thoughts on the potential lineup:
* NEED TO SEE IT: While the Bradley-Pierce-Green-Bass-Garnett combo is insanely intriguing, it would be in Boston's best interest to get an extended late-season glimpse at that unit. That combination has been on the floor for a mere 13 minutes this season. That's an insanely low amount of time for a lineup the team might consider to open the postseason. The unit is minus-6 in that span, but it's hard to draw any firm conclusions based on the tiny sample. Once Pierce and Garnett are healthy, Boston would be well-served to get that group on the floor against different opposing lineups to identify its potential strengths and weaknesses.
* QUICK GUARDS THE CONCERN: The biggest concern about that combination is how a quick, scoring 2-guard could put Boston in a bind. As Rivers has noted, trying to have Pierce or Green defend Dwyane Wade would less than ideal (that said, you could have Bradley guard the 2 and stick Pierce or Green on the 1). On the other hand, Boston believes it can generate mismatches at the other end of the floor as teams will struggle to match Boston's size. As Rivers noted, "It’s a game of chicken."
Pierce had been excused from the team for personal reasons and did not play in Monday's game in Minnesota. Instead he returned to Boston after Sunday's loss in New York and, on Tuesday at 8:21 p.m., wife Julie, and the couple's two daughters, welcomed the baby boy.
Pierce revealed the new addition as part of a postgame interview with Boston sports radio WEEI.
Back on the court on Wednesday night, Pierce finished with 17 points, five assists and three rebounds. He struggled with his shot -- 5-of-14 overall, while missing five of the six 3-pointers he attempted -- but was a team-best plus-8 in plus/minus as the Celtics topped the Pistons 98-93 at TD Garden.
Pierce has been nursing a sore right ankle that likely would have kept him out of Monday's game in Minnesota anyways (Celtics coach Doc Rivers had said Sunday he planned to rest Pierce that day). Pierce suggested he might sit out practice on Thursday in order to get some additional rest.
And, as every new dad knows, you take your rest where you can get it with a newborn.
Pierce tweaked his right ankle in Sunday's loss in New York, but did not accompany the team to Minnesota due to personal reasons. Rivers said that night that he expected Pierce to play against the Pistons.
Kevin Garnett also did not participate in Boston's shootaround and remains on a two-week recovery plan as he recovers from left ankle inflammation.
The team classified Pierce's absence as being for personal reasons. Coach Doc Rivers had strongly hinted after Sunday's loss in New York that Pierce, who iced a sore right ankle on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Knicks, would not play in Minnesota.
Courtney Lee is expected to rejoin the starting lineup and start alongside Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
Celtics center Kevin Garnett remains out due to left ankle inflammation.
This is the second game that Pierce has missed this season, also sitting out a game in Charlotte last month.
BOSTON -- Few would have blamed Shavlik Randolph if he was the last one out of the Celtics' locker room on Friday night. After flirting with his first career double-double -- posting nine points and a career-high 13 rebounds over 22 minutes during a 118-107 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks -- Randolph could have basked in the glow of maybe his finest NBA performance with breathless reporters ready to document his high-energy outing.
Instead he was the first one gone.
So what did Friday's performance mean to a player who had been out of NBA employment for three seasons before the Celtics swooped him up from the Chinese Basketball Association?
"It meant one more win for us," said a selfless Randolph. "It wouldn't have meant anything if we had lost. The most important stat for me is not rebounding -- it is, what is my plus-minus? When I go in the game, is our team plus or minus, as far as overall points, and I can care less if I have a rebound, a point. Obviously, those are things I'm going to need to do to add value to the team and help the team do that, but the Celtics brought me here to come in and give their rotation guys some rest and be able to come in and buy minutes. When I'm out there, hopefully the team can still play well and have a big man out there."
For the record, Randolph was plus-12 for the night, second only to Pierce's plus-28. Over the last four games that Kevin Garnett has been sidelined with ankle inflammation, Randolph is plus-19 when he's on the floor (and Boston is minus-26 when he's not). It's safe to say he's accomplishing his primary goal.
Pierce finished with a steady line: 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. In that regard, it was another complete game for Pierce, in which he produced in the majority of the key areas his team needed him to. But just as he downplayed any positives Boston could derive from Monday's defeat, Pierce seemed more caught up in what didn't go his way: his team-high seven turnovers, along with a minus-9 in plus-minus. Add in missing the potential game-winning jumper on Boston's final possession, and it's easy to see why Pierce wasn't trying to lean on silver linings.
AP Photo/Michael DwyerPaul Pierce focused on his shortcomings in Monday's loss, including his missed 3-pointer on the Celtics' last shot.
Pierce, much like Boston as a whole, will seek the balance of not being satisfied with the outcome, but not overreacting to it either. The Celtics have shown on more than one occasion this season that they can hang with the Heat, and should a playoff series between the clubs occur, Boston shouldn't lack confidence.
"We feel like we match up with them, top to bottom," Pierce said. "But, like I said, no moral victories. Even though it was a close game, we beat them here (in January), the playoffs is a different game."
Pierce deserves credit for adapting his performance as the game progressed. He embraced the role of supplemental scorer, choosing his spots as he watched Jeff Green erupt for a career-high 43 points. And after the Heat rallied in the fourth quarter and assumed a 101-100 lead with 2:40 to play, Pierce made the crucial pass when he fed Avery Bradley for a left corner 3-pointer with 1:49 to play that put the C's back out front, 103-101.
But this ended up being a night when Pierce needed 20 points, not 17. After LeBron James buried a jumper with 10 seconds left to put Miami ahead by two, Pierce came off a Jason Terry screen and rose up for the potential winning 3-pointer along the right wing. But the shot was short, and Miami escaped with its 23rd straight victory.
In the spirit of not overreacting, Pierce laid it out in simple terms when asked about the final shot.
"It felt good coming out of the hands, but sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't," he said.
Asked who the final play was designed for, coach Doc Rivers said, "Whoever was open. (Terry) set a great pick. ... I think he had a good look at it, especially for Paul."
But Pierce wasn't accepting a quality look as a moral victory. He and his team will press on to the next game -- or grind on, to use the Celtics' preferred term -- and try to avoid the moral-victory talk altogether by securing their next win.
The underlying truth about The Truth is that he’s always been a good rebounder, averaging 5.9 rebounds per game over the course of his career, an impressive number for any small forward.
“I felt like in every big game you can count on him for 10 rebounds, no matter who you are playing, or their size,” former Celtics assistant coach and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau says of Pierce. “He’s never been afraid to stick his nose in and he’ll scrap with everybody.”
Despite reliable output over the past 15 seasons, a decline on the glass would be expected at this juncture of any player’s career. Scrapping for boards is a brutal assignment for any player, let alone a 6-7 35-year-old, playing through a pinched nerve in his neck, who was called “unathletic” even before logging almost 45,000 NBA minutes.
And yet this is the season Pierce is posting the best rebounding numbers of his career, amazingly grabbing a higher percentage of his team’s defensive rebounds than bigger, stronger, quicker and younger players like Marc Gasol, Nikola Pekovic, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, Pau Gasol, David West and Carmelo Anthony.
Pierce has grabbed more rebounds per 36 minutes played this year (6.8) than any other season in his entire career, a startling feat that seems to defy the laws of NBA aging.
So what’s been the difference this year for Pierce? It’s simple really: This year, it's what the C's need.
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