Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce

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BOSTON -- The former captain and the current captain huddled at midcourt Sunday after Rajon Rondo's Boston Celtics hung on for a 101-93 triumph over Paul Pierce's Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

It was two veteran leaders, and former teammates from a championship era, sharing a brief moment after an entertaining tilt between their young teams. Pierce laughed when asked before the game if, in the aftermath of Rondo and Kobe Bryant getting pancakes, whether he and Rondo had considered breakfast together. But maybe with both teams headed to the nation's capital for the back end of a home-and-home, they were making plans for dinner.

There's a bond that remains for members of Boston's 2008 title team. Pierce noted how he, Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis all have a group message set up and text regularly. (Somewhere Ray Allen, and the phone number that he may or may not have changed, weeps.)

"It’s just a mutual respect," Pierce said of his embrace with Rondo. Pierce also shared a moment with former teammate Avery Bradley and second-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who arrived after Pierce's departure. "They understand just being with this franchise a long time the things that I’ve been able to accomplish, not only on the court, but off the court, and I think the fans here really value that too. I was saying hi to some of the longtime season-ticket holders and Brad was right there to say hi to him. And Rondo, we talk, we text all the time."

Pierce watched Rondo post his 31st career triple-double after registering 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists over 34 minutes. Rondo is trying to fight his way through a bit of an individual scoring funk, but has spearheaded a Boston offense that has routinely put triple digits on the scoreboard despite their persistent fourth-quarter struggles.

Eight years ago, back when Rondo was just a rookie deep on Boston's point-guard depth chart, Pierce was in similar shoes as Rondo is now as the veteran leader of a team enduring the pains of the rebuilding process, which that season included a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak.

[+] EnlargePierce/Rondo
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce and Rajon Rondo share a mutual respect as longtime teammates and members of a championship team.
Now, even from afar, Pierce offers advice to Rondo on how to be patient as the Celtics attempt to get back to contender status.

"He has a chance to show these guys what it takes to win, the habits you have to have," Pierce said. "He’s grown up before our eyes when I was here. Now he’s become the leader here. It’s good for him to experience it on his own, the one true All-Star, the veteran that the younger guys look up to for guidance.

"He’s accepted that role and it’s tough. It’s a demanding role, especially in this situation where you’re losing, but he’s up for the task. It’s frustrating, definitely. He definitely gets frustrated. Losing is not easy. Rondo’s been a part of a lot of winning teams, but he’s headstrong. He’ll fight through it."

The Celtics routinely have kicked away fourth-quarter leads this season and nearly did it again as the Wizards rallied from 18 down to claw within a point twice late in Sunday's game. In fact, Pierce had a quality look at a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go, but missed the shot.

A couple of possessions earlier, Pierce had a chance to tie the game, but it was Rondo who rushed out from Boston's zone defense to contest. He didn't bite on a series of upfakes and, aware of the late-clock situation, managed to strip Pierce as he started up for a 3-point attempt.

With Sunday's victory, the Celtics have won a season-high three straight games. The triumph over the Wizards is the most satisfying of the bunch (yes, even more so than stomping the rival Lakers) because it came against a team with an honest to goodness chance of being a contender in the Eastern Conference.

That's why Pierce is in Washington, after all. After 15 seasons in Boston, he has accepted the role of veteran vagabond, now playing on his third team in three seasons while trying to give the Wizards the lift they need to take their next step.

But his legacy lives on in Boston, particularly through Rondo.

"One of my favorite guys, he’s one of my favorite leaders I’ve ever played with," Rondo said of Pierce. "He’s a great role model and I’m sure the older he gets, the more knowledge he has for a young guy like John Wall and Bradley Beal.

"He’s just a great talker. When he does it, he’s very positive on the court. He’s demanding. He’s going to yell at you and get on you, but it’s all for the betterment of yourself and the team."

Pierce admitted he was less emotional this visit. He said it'll always be strange walking into the Garden and making the left-hand turn into the visitor's locker room instead of Boston's spot on the right. Fans showered him with an ovation when he was introduced before Sunday's game.

"I tried to focus a lot," Pierce said. "Last year was really tough for me to lock in on what I needed to do. This year, I just wanted to come in, lock in at the job at hand and focus as much as possible. It’s hard at times. I hear the chants and I hear the people yelling, but when I come into the Garden now, it’s to try to get a win against the Boston Celtics.

"This place will always have a place in my heart. Always. Everybody understands when you play for a Boston team [and win a] championship, no one in this town ever forgets that. Just like we still celebrate Larry [Bird], Kevin [McHale], you know, those guys when they come around here. These are our true fans."

Pierce was asked again if he might entertain the idea of returning to Boston, whether to close out his playing career or after he hangs up his headband.

"Well, we’ll see if the opportunity presents itself," Pierce said. "Maybe if there’s an opportunity, I would love to."

The other question is whether Rondo will still be here if that were to happen. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer and must decide whether he wants to stick out Boston's rebuilding process and potentially develop a Pierce-like legacy with the only team he's ever played for.

Stevens noted after Saturday's practice how he likes that the fans respond to Pierce, cheering him even despite his visitor status. Stevens said, "I think it tells you about the legacy that he left here. Hopefully that’s a good thing for others to follow."

Maybe Rondo will stay on the same path. If nothing else, he's doing what Pierce did back in those lean years in trying to help steer a young team back to contender status.
BOSTON -- Old friend Paul Pierce received a standing ovation when he was the final player introduced during the visitor lineups for the Washington Wizards on Sunday....



This is Pierce's third game in Boston since being traded away in July 2013. Asked before Sunday's game if it still felt weird, Piece said, "It’s always probably going to be weird. Just coming up in this arena, even just landing at the airport, just driving through the city. Taking a left instead of the right in the locker room. It’s always going to be weird coming up in here; it’s always going to be a little uncomfortable. This year I have to remember that I have a game, and I have to be ready for it. Sometimes it’s easy to lose focus like I did last year, but I think it’s a little easier for me this year."


WALTHAM, Mass. -- Paul Pierce returns to Boston again Sunday. Not that he ever really left.

In a way, Boston fans feel bad for supporters of the Washington Wizards. Oh sure, they’ve got an impressive young team, and Pierce, signed to a two-year deal this summer, provides exactly the sort of veteran presence the Wizards need to make another leap in the Eastern Conference. But every time you look up, there’s a friendly reminder that Pierce’s heart remains in Boston.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce, already a Wizard, represented the Celtics at Derek Jeter's last game at Fenway.
In late September, the Red Sox invited Pierce to Fenway Park for Derek Jeter’s last game, and he went on the field at Fenway Park wearing a Celtics jacket. Late last month, a wide-eyed fan in a Celtics No. 34 jersey approached the Wizards bench with a pair of shoes for Pierce to autograph. He did so -- with more than a minute remaining in a win over the Bucks.

Jump on Twitter and Pierce’s avatar is him in Celtics colors, clutching the Larry O’Brien Trophy and smoking one of Red Auerbach’s famous cigars while wearing a 2008 championship hat. His most recent tweet directs you to Jeter’s Players’ Tribune website, where Pierce made a video this summer that opens with him saying, “Man, I miss Boston.”

That minute-long clip shows Pierce interacting with fans around the city, and he playfully says of Sunday’s game against the Celtics: “I can’t wait to play here again, gonna drop 30 for old time’s sake.” The video culminates with Pierce playfully tugging on the locked doors outside TD Garden, and he adds, “Maybe [Rajon] Rondo will let me sleep on his couch.”

The Celtics host the Wizards in a 1 o’clock matinee Sunday, the front end of a home-and-home between the two teams. For Pierce, it will afford him 48 hours of nostalgia.

This is only Pierce’s third trip back to the Garden since the blockbuster swap that delivered him and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in July 2013. Pierce got emotional his first time back in January when the Celtics ran a 2½-minute tribute video. After that game, Pierce said it was the “toughest game I ever had to play. Tougher than any championship game, or any Game 7.”

Things got a little easier when he returned in March, but Pierce admitted then that it will always be a mixture of emotions when he comes back to the Garden. Sunday should be no different despite the new laundry.

Pierce actually stopped into the Celtics’ training facility over the summer, but forgive him if he felt slightly out of place. Only five players remain on Boston’s roster who played with Pierce: Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger. Fortunately for Pierce, even with all the changes, including at head coach with the departure of Doc Rivers, there’s still a lot of familiar faces. He greeted much of the support staff during his offseason visit.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens says it’s the way those staffers speak of Pierce that resonates with him.

“One of the great things about Paul Pierce, from what I can tell -- and again, I don’t know him well, so it’s hard for me to say -- is the way that everybody else talks about him,” said Stevens. “The way that people in this facility that don’t coach, whether it’s administration or the front office or travel or athletic training or strength and conditioning, everybody loved him. Everybody really thought highly of him. That’s a great legacy to leave on a place.”

Stevens joked Saturday, “When Danny [Ainge] first called me about this job, Paul and KG were on the team. By the time I took the job, they weren’t.”

But Stevens knew that the Celtics were headed into a rebuilding process that launched with the Brooklyn deal. Pierce’s legacy will be felt in some small part by the presence of Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton (acquired this summer using the trade exception generated by his departure) and James Young (acquired using Brooklyn’s first-round pick in June’s draft) on Boston’s roster.

Pierce is averaging 12.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 26.4 minutes per game. He gives Washington additional depth on the wing and provides a championship-tested presence the Wizards can lean on at times at the end of games.

“[Pierce is] unbelievable,” Stevens said. “I’m very happy for him from afar to be on the team that he’s on. He has fit in well with that team. And I know it’s probably been hard for him because now he’s played on three teams instead of one, just two years after the trade.”

At this stage of his career, Pierce is able to chase another title ring -- one that would only cement his NBA legacy considering his No. 34 might as well be in rafters in Boston already. Pierce has said in the past that he’s open to a return to the Celtics, maybe as a player, as a coach or in the front office. Boston fans often daydream of Pierce finishing out his playing days in green, particularly if the Celtics are able to hit the accelerator on their rebuilding process, but Pierce’s return to Boston in some capacity seems inevitable.

There’s still plenty left in the tank for the 37-year-old player. And, although Stevens never got to coach him, the 38-year-old helmsman has a great appreciation for what Pierce has meant to the franchise. The two shared a brief moment in the team’s equipment room back in January after Pierce sneaked in to say hello to his good friend John Connor, Boston’s travel and equipment manager.

And Stevens has no problems with the way Boston fans celebrate Pierce, even when he returns in a visitor’s uniform.

“No, that’s great. That’s the way it should be,” Stevens said. “I think it’s fun that everybody recognizes that those guys put in a lot of time and really loved being members of this community. I think that’s great.”

Added Stevens: “I think it tells you about the legacy that he left here. Hopefully that’s a good thing for others to follow.”

Can Paul Pierce handle the truth?

November, 5, 2014
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In warmups before a recent Washington Wizards exhibition game, Paul Pierce became one of the biggest instigators of an impromptu dunk contest.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
AP Photo/Carolyn KasterThe Wizards are hoping Pierce can bring them the late-game punch they lacked all of last season.
Bradley Beal, John Wall, Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter all zipped through, executing highlight-reel dunks. Pierce then grabbed the ball, streaked into the lane and delivered an emphatic ... finger roll.

"I'm saving my jumps for the game, when they count," Pierce shot back. "Those guys can jump around all day. I don't have jumps to spare. But hell yeah, I can still do it."

Yeah, right.

Then the game started and Pierce rejected two shots in the first quarter, including a chase-down block in transition that he swatted off the glass.

"Paul acted like he was 18 again," a beaming Beal said. "And that's the highest I've ever seen him jump before. That shows he's out there to be a key part of this team. For him to actually chase down a block in a preseason game shows a lot about his commitment and his character."

The age jokes can get harsh at 37 years old. Case in point: Pierce recently heard his new teammates cracking up when someone joked that Beal hadn't started kindergarten when the Boston Celtics selected Pierce with the No. 10 pick of the 1998 draft.

Only it wasn't a joke. Beal, now 21, was 4 years old at the time.

"It goes by so fast," Pierce said. "It's crazy now, being around a lot of these young guys. And they're like, 'I remember when I was little and watching you play back in the day.' And I'm like, 'Really? I guess you're right.' I'm 17 years in. A lot of these guys were probably still drinking milk from their baby bottles, still breastfeeding, man."

Pierce spent the first 15 of those 17 NBA seasons in Boston, winning a title and cementing future Hall of Fame status. But he has since become something of a basketball nomad, plying his famous step-back jumpers from the elbow for a new team each of the past two seasons.

He and Kevin Garnett were traded last offseason to the Brooklyn Nets for a bounty of draft picks and assets in a bold, win-now move. Pierce appeared in 75 games for Brooklyn in 2013-14, including 68 starts, and played a large part in righting the Nets' sinking season by embracing a stretch-4 role, but his individual numbers sank to career lows (13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes a game, a 16.81 player efficiency rating) and the team was bounced from the playoffs in the second round.

With Brooklyn luxury tax-burdened for the foreseeable future, Pierce looked elsewhere in free agency. The Wizards signed him to a two-year, $10.8 million contract in July with hopes the veteran swingman could spark an offense that endured anemic stretches late in games last season, including multiple times in the fourth quarter during their second-round playoff-series loss to the Indiana Pacers.

"We have a lot of talent, but there was one thing we didn't have last year: At the end of the game, we didn't really have a guy we could throw the ball to who had the experience to take over," Gortat said. "Now, we have a guy who can do something for us. We'll throw it to [Pierce]. He's going to do his shimmy-shimmy stuff and get us a bucket."

(Read full story)

Snapshots: Pierce back in green

September, 28, 2014
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Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce donned the green again on Sunday when he appeared at Fenway Park to help the Boston Red Sox salute Derek Jeter.

Clad in a Celtics jacket, Pierce was among a collection of Boston sports stars on hand to greet Jeter during the final game of his career. Pierce, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, signed with the Washington Wizards this offseason.

A couple glimpses of Pierce in green again:
 

Pierce to Wizards on 2-year deal

July, 13, 2014
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Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce is set to sign with the Washington Wizards:
After a short stay in Brooklyn, Paul Pierce is heading to the Washington Wizards.

Sources close to the process told ESPN.com on Saturday that Pierce has committed to sign a two-year, $11 million deal with the Wizards, who moved swiftly to find a title-tested replacement for Trevor Ariza after Ariza struck an agreement earlier in the day to join the Houston Rockets.

The contract, sources said, has a player option after this season that will allow Pierce, 36, to return to free agency next summer if he chooses.

The short-term nature of the deal, meanwhile, could help Washington preserve some flexibility for its dream scenario of pursuing DC native Kevin Durant when the current Oklahoma City Thunder star is scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2016.

Pierce, a 10-time All-Star, took to Twitter early Sunday morning.

[Read full story]

Rapid reaction: Pierce delivers a bit of a shocker, shunning the more established contenders to join an intriguing Wizards team on the rise. Many thought Pierce, traded from Boston to Brooklyn last summer, would end up with Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers or back alongside Kevin Garnett with the Nets. But Pierce took modest money (two years, $11 million) to help replace Trevor Ariza with the Wizards and should be exactly the veteran presence that team needs to have a chance in the changing Eastern Conference. Pierce's departure from Brooklyn only makes last summer's trade with the Nets look better for Boston, which brought back three first-round picks as part of the deal. You can't help but wonder what effect Pierce's decision will have on Kevin Garnett. From ESPN New York:
What does this mean for KG? We will soon find out. The Nets still expect Garnett to return this season for the final year of his contract worth $12 million.

But Garnett could return and be unhappy. He clearly did not envision playing for the Nets without Pierce and Kidd when he waived his no-trade clause last summer. Garnett may be in the twilight of his career and maybe a 20-minute-a-night player who plays 50-60 games and sits on back-to-backs at this point. But he’s still an asset as far as being a positive influence on younger teammates and a mentor to the likes of Lopez and Mason Plumlee.

If Garnett returns and doesn’t like the situation, both sides could opt to try and seek a trade later in the season. We will have to wait and see if Garnett does return and how happy he will be now that his best friend Pierce is gone

For those that dream of Pierce coming home to Boston to end his playing career, his new deal is expected to include a player option that could allow him to return to free agency next summer (when the Celtics could be looking to add a veteran wing as part of their own push to return to contender status). -- Chris Forsberg



Pondering Pierce's future

May, 16, 2014
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CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics' brain trust spent Thursday observing potential future additions at the NBA's draft combine in Chicago, but chatter about the team often turned to its past given the recent playoff ouster of the Brooklyn Nets and old friends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

David Richard/USA TODAY SportsWhat does the future hold for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett after Brooklyn's season ended Wednesday?
Is this it for Garnett? What does the future hold for Pierce? Just as it was for Celtics for much of the 2013-14 season, Garnett and Pierce remain close at mind as the Green navigate a rebuilding process aimed at restoring the contender status that existed throughout the Big Three era.

Celtics fans are well versed in the annual KG speculation. We should know how it goes by now and Garnett will silently retreat to Malibu and ponder his future after 19 years in the league. Even with $315 million in career earnings, the soon-to-be 38-year-old Garnett has 12 million reasons to return to the court despite his struggles this past season.

Pierce's future is a bit more intriguing, particularly as he prepares to become an unrestricted free agent. Speculation is already running rampant:
Though Pierce, a free agent to be, walked through the Nets' practice gym on the team's breakup day without speaking to reporters, it was impossible to miss that the 16-year veteran was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat that seemed to send a loud-and-clear message: His intended audience was Boston. He wants to go back. And he didn't care if the bad optics offended anyone on his last day as a Net.

Pierce wouldn't commit to returning to the Nets after they lost their second-round series to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, even though he said he wants to play one or two more years. Yet he had no problem earlier this season speaking at length about how he'd love to finish his playing days with the Celts.

[ESPN New York: Pierce, Garnett experiment a letdown]

When asked about a potential return to Boston earlier this season, Pierce didn't rule out the possibility, but suggested that was more likely to occur after his playing days. Pierce has said he envisions a possible front office role with the Celtics when he hangs up his hightops and you can easily imagine that scenario (think Jason Varitek and his special assistant to the GM role with the Red Sox).

SportsNation

Which team do you think Paul Pierce will sign with this offseason?

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Discuss (Total votes: 4,427)

But Pierce returning to Boston to close out his playing career? We've pondered that scenario recently and, unless there's some serious fireworks from the Celtics early this offseason, it simply seems unlikely that Pierce would desire to finish his playing days without a surefire chance to compete for a title.

Pierce, who will turn 37 before the start of next season, showed during the 2013-14 season that there's still plenty left in his tank. Former coach Doc Rivers often suggested that Pierce could play until he's 50 because of his crafty nature. Nostalgic Celtics fans, punch drunk from a 57-loss rebuilding season, will fantasize about Pierce returning to provide the sort of veteran leadership that could aid Boston's younger players, but Pierce's focus at this stage of his career is almost certainly on adding the titles that would cement his NBA legacy.

Our gut tells us Pierce is more likely to end his playing days with a top title contender. If Garnett elects to return to Brooklyn for that final season of his current contract, Pierce will feel a strong pull to stay alongside his good friend, the one that he talked into the summer blockbuster that delivered the duo from Boston, despite the Nets' future uncertainty.

If Garnett rides off into the sunset, Pierce will find no shortage of interest from contending teams. He'll almost certainly feel a strong pull from the West Coast, especially if Rivers phones to recruit him for a Clippers team that met the same disappointing second-round demise as the Nets despite similar championship aspirations.

Pierce, an Inglewood native, would likely be intrigued by the idea of playing back home. Dare we ponder if he might even consider closing out his playing days with a (gulp) Lakers team that he once feverishly cheered as a child? (Don't fret about that quite yet, Celtics fans, as the Lakers need plenty of their own fireworks to make Pierce truly consider that).

Ultimately, the Celtics need to remain locked on the future rather than dwelling on the past. The idea of a Pierce return is fun to consider, but Boston's focus right now should be on identifying the players that can lead the team the way Pierce did in his 15 seasons here.

If nothing else, Pierce already did his part to aid Boston's future. The three first-round draft picks delivered in that deal will go a long way toward helping the Celtics return to contender status, while the Nets might have paid a hefty ransom for five playoff wins.

[Additional reading: Pierce: One or two more years left | Nets Summer Scoop]

Grantland: History of Pierce vs. LeBron

May, 6, 2014
May 6
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Grantland: Pierce vs. LeBron

Tonight, the latest chapter in a rivalry that has spanned six years, four teams, all types of dramatic fourth-quarter duels, all manners of grit-n-grind loose-ball dives, and at least one salacious May-December (rumored!) romance, opens. Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. And so tonight, once again (for the 26th time, to be exact), Paul Pierce and LeBron James will duke it out in a playoff game. Now, let us take a trip down memory lane!

The Prelude


Their personal playoff trajectories wouldn’t line up until 2008, but way before the stakes were high, these dudes were chippy. As Brian Windhorst writes in this great 2012 piece on the rivalry, it started in LeBron’s rookie year, during a game in which Pierce had laid down a hard foul on James, then quickly started chattering with “Otis Carter, the father of James’ friend Maverick Carter and someone whom James considers an uncle.”

LeBron would net 37, a rookie high, but Pierce one-upped him with 41 and Boston won the game. Reports Windhorst, “He told James late in the game he needed to tell Carter to be quiet or he’d go for 50 points. Or at least that is how the story goes.” Mixing it up not with the dude, but with the dude’s uncle? Arguably one of the more Paul Pierce–ish moves of all time. Even when he was a young man, he was an old man.

There were two more notable regular-season incidents, via Windhorst. In 2004, during a preseason game at Ohio State, “Pierce spit toward the Cavs’ bench, for which he was later fined $15,000 … in the dressing room area after the game … tempers flared again in the hallway [and] Pierce’s teammates had to literally carry him away to prevent an altercation.” And in 2006, the two would have a tête-à-tête in Boston, to the tune of 43 for The King and 50 for The Truth.

[Read full story on Grantland.com]
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesIt's LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce, again.
We've told this story before, but it seems appropriate again now...

In the aftermath of Boston's 2007-08 championship season, the Celtics held a championship DVD viewing party at the Legends Club inside TD Garden. While most players mingled, Paul Pierce sat at the bar, a glass of wine in hand, and shook his head as he watched highlights from Boston's second-round triumph over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Man, LeBron is a beast," Pierce sighed to no one in particular while watching another slow-motion sequence in which James and Pierce drew cringe-worthy contact, sweat droplets scattering in every direction with every car-crash type collision.

And now they'll meet again, and you might as well call them the Brooklyn Celtics because it's clear who Boston will be rooting for when the Nets and Heat meet in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals.

How does Pierce feel about another joust with James? From our friends at ESPN New York:
There won’t be happy feelings when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett renew their rivalry with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But it certainly feels like old times all over again with LeBron battling Pierce and Garnett in a best-of-seven series.

“Yeah, it’s seeming like that, eh?” Garnett said after the Nets survived 104-103 in a Game 7 win over Toronto. “It seems like that. It seems like we’re seeing [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron for the past seven, eight years.

“That’s what it is, man,” Garnett continued. “The best is playing the best. All right? You guys take it easy.”

Let the rivalry start up again. The two former Celtics will be facing James for the fifth time in seven postseasons, dating back to when James was a Cleveland Cavalier.

Garnett and Pierce have split the four meetings with James but haven't beaten their nemesis since he joined the Heat. In the 25 playoff games they have played during those four series, Pierce and Garnett are 12-13 overall against James. Their last playoff meeting in 2012 went seven games, with Miami surviving against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.

Pierce relishes every opportunity he gets to play against James. This season, Pierce averaged 21 points against Miami and helped lead the Nets to a regular-season sweep (4-0) of the Heat. It was the first time James has lost four straight to a team in a regular season in his career.

“I rank LeBron as one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Pierce said. “A tremendous athlete, four-time MVP, two-time champion, he’s already passed so many greats that we still talk about. And when you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments.

“I consider myself a great competitor who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best,” Pierce added. “Just over the years matching up with him, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, all the guys who were in my era who were great wing men, you want those moments.”
ESPN New York: Pierce, KG meet King James ... again

Video: Pierce's block saves Nets

May, 4, 2014
May 4
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Old friend Paul Pierce blocks the shot of Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry as time expires to help the Brooklyn Nets advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Now Pierce and Kevin Garnett will lead Brooklyn into a matchup against the Miami Heat. Pretty safe to say most Celtics fans will temporarily adopt the Nets.

Here's more on Pierce's block from ESPN New York:
TORONTO -- A scowling Paul Pierce strutted down the Air Canada Centre floor, doing his signature fist pump while unleashing a primal scream that would make even Kevin Garnett flinch.

This is what it's like to see a dinosaur roar above 20,547 in Toronto.

After starting this first-round series in Toronto with his Game 1 daggers, Pierce finished the Raptors in Game 7 with a series-clinching block on Kyle Lowry as time expired, sending the Brooklyn Nets into the second round with a breathtaking 104-103 victory.

In his accomplished career, the 36-year-old Pierce has authored some amazing playoff moments, but none quite like this. Known for delivering clutch playoff daggers, the old man nicknamed "The Truth" won a series looking like Dikembe Mutombo.

A finger wag was the only thing missing.

“Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” Pierce said. “And I was there tonight.”

[The Truth prevails to book Nets' Miami trip]

Garnett, Pierce feel for former coach Rivers

April, 29, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce say they feel for what their former coach, Doc Rivers, is going through now as he tries to navigate the Clippers through unprecedented controversy.

“Definitely, it’s a tough situation,” Pierce said. “Your owner is labeled as a racist. You’re a head black coach, head president. It’s a tough situation to work for somebody like that so it’s hard to be in that situation this time of the year, so much on the line.

“But I know Doc is very headstrong and he’ll work it out.”

Garnett said he has sent his support to Rivers.

“I think it’s important for obviously players to be unified,” Garnett said. “The Sterlings of the world obviously exist. Sports brings cultures together. We need to focus on that.

“If any coach can deal with it, he can,” Garnett added. “Doc is one of the most resilient coaches I’ve ever played for. Not just helped me out as a player but helped me out as a young man, helped me as a better father and a better person. I hope that he is able to spread some of that to his players and his organization.”

As things have turned out, Garnett might be glad he didn’t end up a Clipper last summer.

Garnett was mentioned in a potential side deal to Rivers’ pact to join the Clippers last year. In the end, only Rivers ended up with the Clippers while former Celtics Garnett and Pierce became Brooklyn Nets.

Garnett was asked if he would’ve wanted to become a Clipper and follow Rivers knowing what he knows now about owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday.

“I’m a Net,” Garnett said after Nets practice. “I don’t focus on almost. In high school, I never dealt with the chick that almost wanted to go out with me.”

Pierce lends a hand to Rondo, C's

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8
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BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo doesn't always let opposing players help his teammates up off the floor -- just last Saturday he pushed Indiana's Roy Hibbert out of the way to peel Jeff Green off the parquet on his own. But there are exceptions.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsPaul Pierce exchanged pregame pleasantries with Rajon Rondo before offering a rare in-game assist.
Like when it's old friend Paul Pierce sticking out his hand to pick Rondo up after putting him on the floor late in the first half of Friday's Celtics-Nets tilt at TD Garden. Fans roared and Pierce smiled wide after he pulled Rondo up and patted him on the rear.

Just the former captain looking out for the new one.

A couple hours later, in the still-odd confines of the visitors' locker room, Pierce praised Rondo while assessing the new captain's ability to lead Boston back to contender status.

"In the end, me and Rondo share a special bond," said Pierce. "We'll always be friends, we'll always have something in common with our championship, our kids still hang out together."

Amid the heartfelt words came a brief moment of levity.

Pierce said their children "hung out for [Rondo's] birthday, actually," giving himself a good belly laugh knowing full well the hoopla that ensued in these parts after Rondo skipped a trip to Sacramento last month to celebrate his birthday in Los Angeles.

Turning serious again, Pierce offered, "Rondo, I respect him and what he's doing moving forward with this franchise and it will always be that way."

If the Nets' January visit was one of emotion and indulgence for Pierce, this time around it was all about his former squad. Pierce and the Nets were ice cold shooting and the Celtics overcame their own sloppiness to emerge with a 91-84 triumph.

Pierce said it's always emotional returning to Boston, but that this visit couldn't compare to his first game back in a Nets uniform. He savored that night and the tribute video that rolled, allowing him to reflect on his 15 seasons with the Celtics.

This time around, Pierce spent most of his postgame chat with reporters gushing about Rondo and Boston's future.

"They are a young team, they got a mix of some veterans, some young guys they are developing and they are only going to get better," said Pierce. "Rondo is leading them right now, moving into the next generation of Celtics. I think their future is going to be very bright."

(Read full story)

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 91, Nets 84

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
10:00
PM ET

BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 91-84 on Friday night at TD Garden:


The nitty gritty: Rajon Rondo put up 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Jerryd Bayless added 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals (while finishing a team-best plus-16) to help the Celtics to only their second win in their past nine tries. Jared Sullinger grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds as Boston dominated the glass (finishing with a 51-28 advantage) against undersized Brooklyn. Joe Johnson scored a team-high 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting, while Deron Williams added 20 points for the Nets. Former Celtics captain Paul Pierce finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist in 21 minutes.

Turning point: The Celtics led by 12 at halftime and as much as 18 early in the third quarter, but the Nets were so cold in the first half, you figured they had to charge at some point. Sure enough, Brooklyn embarked on a 22-6 run to surge within two (70-68) with two minutes to play in the third frame. Fortunately for Boston, the Nets went ice cold again and Boston extended its lead back to 11 just two minutes into the fourth quarter after consecutive buckets by Bayless. The Nets never truly threatened again as Boston posted a wire-to-wire victory.

Loose balls: The Nets shot just 36.3 percent from the field overall (29-of-80) and, after missing 16 straight 3-pointers to start the game, finished 4-of-30 beyond the arc (13.3 percent). … Boston turned the ball over a whopping 28 times but limited the damage (26 points) and shot 44.3 percent from the floor overall. … Rondo made three first-quarter 3-pointers while setting a new career-high for 3-pointers in a season. … Phil Pressey deserves a nod for being plus-15 in 13 minutes of floor time.

What it means: The Celtics (21-41) snapped a two-game losing streak. They're also likely to climb a bit in the standings after entering with the fourth-worst record in basketball. Boston wraps up this five-game homestand on Sunday with a visit from the Detroit Pistons. A trip to Indiana looms on Tuesday before the Celtics return home for visits from the New York Knicks (Wednesday) and Phoenix Suns (Friday).

MacMullan: Pierce goes home again

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
12:35
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BOSTON -- Paul Pierce was coming home, but if the pillars have been removed and the foundation has been replaced, is it still his house?

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce salutes the Boston crowd after a tribute video to him was played.
The answer, in a TD Garden awash in memories and emotion, was unequivocally yes.

A capacity crowd pulsing with energy and nostalgia embraced both Pierce and his trusted friend Kevin Garnett upon their first return to Boston since they were traded to the Brooklyn Nets last July.

On this night, the performance of their plucky Celtics team was of secondary importance. The fans not only cheered wildly as video tributes for each future Hall of Famer unfolded on the video screen high above the court (including a young woman who sobbed during the montage of the Truth's greatest moments), they celebrated every time Pierce touched the ball, passed it to a teammate or simply checked into the game.

They even saluted him when he was on the bench. One of the more surreal moments of Sunday's lovefest was when chants of "Paul Pierce" wafted through the building as Celtics forward Kris Humphries tried to shoot a pair of free throws for the home team.

It was not without irony that Humphries was one of the players traded for Pierce, although the real haul was the future first-round draft picks, the promise of a new day. That's what convinced Danny Ainge to ship Boston's second all-time leading scorer out of town.

It was a devastating blow to a proud, proud man who thought he'd earned the right to stay forever.

It was never his intent to step onto the parquet in black-and-silver Brooklyn colors, to dress in the opposing dressing room, to try to beat the only franchise he'd ever known.

"This was the toughest game I've ever had to play," Pierce conceded. "Tougher than any championship, tougher than any Game 7."

Although Pierce and KG had mentally prepared themselves for this trip and the inevitable emotional tug of war it would entail, it was completely and utterly disarming. All those No. 34 and No. 5 jerseys, all those "Celtic for Life" signs, all those standing ovations. How were they expected to concentrate?

(Read full story)

Video: KG, Pierce tributes

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
12:30
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BOSTON -- A look at the Boston Celtics tribute videos for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from inside TD Garden during Sunday's homecoming:

KEVIN GARNETT

 

PAUL PIERCE

 


Hop HERE to see Garnett and Pierce introduced to a loud ovation before the game.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.6 1.5 1.0 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.2
AssistsE. Turner 3.3
StealsK. Olynyk 1.3
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8