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Boston says farewell to Paul Pierce, the purest scorer in Celtics history

02.04.17 at 11:30 pm ET
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May 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second quarter in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce will play his final game in a building he called home while creating countless memories for 15 years (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today)

History won’t only take place in Houston’s NRG Stadium on Sunday.

Nearly 2,000 miles away from Super Bowl LI, the purest scorer in Celtics history will play his last game in Boston. 

Paul Pierce, who plans to retire after this season, will give Celtics fans one final performance on his beloved parquet when the Clippers visit TD Garden in a pre-Super Bowl matinee at 2 p.m.

Although it’s been nearly four years since Pierce donned a Celtics uniform, his contributions to the city and organization feel fresh. Fifteen years and one unforgettable title ensure him of immortality.

Celtics legends Larry Bird and John Havlicek often headline discussions of the franchise’s best pure scorer, but was there a more dynamic offensive force than Pierce? He could score at a high rate in every way imaginable.

Pierce could take his defender to the rim, score from the mid-range, hit 3’s, and make shots with victory on the line, as his dozen-plus game-winners prove. The 10-time All-Star was an offensive assassin. And his career numbers back it up. 

Not only does he lead the Celtics in most 3-pointers and free-throws made but in both statistical categories, he’s top-10 in NBA history. Only three NBA players have drained more 3-pointers than Pierce (2,137) and he’s eighth in free-throws made (6,916).

He enters Sunday’s game as the 16th leading scorer in league history with 26,361 career points, fittingly, right behind Celtics legend Havlicek (26,395), who is 15th on the list. 

Pierce is not only the best pure scorer in Celtics history, he’s also one of the most gifted offensive talents in league history. Despite being overshadowed by great scorers throughout his prime, starting with Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s and ending with LeBron James today, Pierce eventually earned his place in their company.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Isaiah Thomas reacts to Paul Pierce calling him a ‘Championship-type player”

02.04.17 at 4:25 pm ET
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Feb 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce acknowledges Isaiah Thomas as one of the league’s great scorers (David Butler II/USA Today)

Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas found out on Friday that a future Hall of Famer thinks the 5-foot-9 guard has what it takes to win an NBA title.

In a recent one-on-one interview with Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Paul Pierce commented on this season’s Celtics team and called Thomas a “championship-type player.” The former Celtics captain said that he believes that Thomas, along with the intelligence and guidance of head coach Brad Stevens, have a chance to compete for a championship one day. 

A smile stretched across Thomas’ face when he found out what the Celtics legend had to say about him. 

“I didn’t know that,” Thomas said. “That means everything. From a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a Celtics legend, to say that about me, that means a lot. Like I always say, I don’t care what anybody says but my peers and the people who did it before me. For a guy like that to say that, that’s crazy.”

In light of Pierce playing his final game at TD Garden on Sunday, Thomas added: 

“I’m going to try to find his jersey, so I can get it signed.”

After a 38-point performance in Friday’s win over the Lakers, Thomas is now averaging 29.9 points per game, less than one point away from Russell Westbrook’s league-leading 30.8 point average. 

The last Celtics player to finish a season averaging 29.9 points per game was Larry Bird back in the 1987-88 season. 

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Brad Stevens named coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars

02.04.17 at 12:12 pm ET
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Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics coach Brad Stevens becomes the first Celtics coach to earn the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars since 2011 (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

After clinching the second-best record in the East, Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his coaching staff have earned the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team. 

The Celtics’ 113-107 win over the Lakers put them 2.5 games ahead of the Wizards, while only two games separate the C’s from first place. Stevens becomes the sixth Celtics coach to ever coach the Eastern All-Star team, the first since Doc Rivers’ coaching staff in 2011. 

Although Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who holds the best record in the Eastern Conference, should be coaching the Eastern All-Stars, he couldn’t because of the NBA rule that disallows coaches to make back-to-back appearances at All-Star games. 

The Celtics held onto the second-best record in the East before the deciding Feb. 5 deadline.

“It should be Ty Lue,” Stevens said. “But the way the rules work then it’s the next-best record because he did it last year. 

“But what’s nice about it is, there’s no politics in it. There’s no subjectivity. It’s what your team has accomplished. And that’s a credit to the players in the locker room. You know, it’s almost a little bit, I almost, feel bad that I’m the one that’s going. I’d rather have another one or two of those guys (the players) playing in it. But our staff will really enjoy it, and our staff’s kids will really enjoy it. And we’ll go from there.”

Stevens was quick to credit his players for putting him in a position to succeed and explained how it takes hard work from talented guys in order for a coach to be successful. 

“I think none of us (coaches) are crazy enough to think you get there without really good players, and the players certainly carry the coaches,” Stevens explained. “That’s been the way it’s always been. But with regard to the staff, I think our staff works really hard. I’ve said before that I’ve tried to prioritize hiring humble, hardworking and intelligent people. And they come every day, they work really hard, they do a lot behind the scenes, they put in a lot of time and effort, and so it’s nice that they’re going to be a part of that as well.”

The 2017 All-Star game will be played on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. 

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Isaiah Thomas (38 points), Celtics beat Lakers, reach franchise milestone

02.03.17 at 11:43 pm ET
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Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (38 points) has now scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

The Boston Celtics now have the most wins in NBA history.

In a showdown between two of the league’s most storied franchises, the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 113-107 and set the NBA team record for most cumulative regular-season wins. 

Both teams entered Friday’s contest at TD Garden tied at 3,252 all-time regular-season victories before Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics fended off their opponent in the final frame and improved to 32-18. Thomas finished with a game-high 38 points and poured in 17 fourth-quarter points to push the Celtics to their sixth consecutive win. 

With 3:50 left, the Lakers pulled to within seven points (101-94) and gave up a golden opportunity to make it a four-point game after the C’s surrendered three offensive rebounds. Boston allowed Louis Williams and D’Angelo Russell each take turns jacking up four straight 3-pointers until Al Horford finally pulled down a defensive rebound — which led to Thomas scoring four straight points.

From there, the Celtics held on.

Jae Crowder finished with 18 points and Jaylen Brown added 12 points to go with his 7 rebounds while Horford flirted with a triple-double (11 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists). 

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Isaiah Thomas named Eastern Conference Player of the Month

02.02.17 at 11:07 pm ET
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Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas is the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce to win the Eastern Conference Player of the Month (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

This month, Isaiah Thomas made the decision easy for the NBA. 

After putting together one of the greatest scoring months in franchise history, Thomas was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month on Thursday.

Leading the Celtics to a 10-4 record, Thomas averaged 32.9 points and 6.9 assists throughout the month of January and is now the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce (March of 2012) to take home the award.

In light of Wednesday’s 44-point performance, Thomas also stretched his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 33 consecutive games. 

He’s also been invited to participate in All-Star Saturday night’s Skills Challenge. Thomas will compete against a combination of guards and big men including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, John Wall, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid on February 18 in New Orleans.

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Isaiah Thomas (44 points) leads comeback win over Raptors, with help from supporting cast

02.02.17 at 12:22 am ET
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Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) and forward Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) was called for a foul during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier earned some late-fourth quarter minutes in comeback win against Raptors (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

The unsung heroes set the stage. And then Isaiah Thomas, as he seems to do on a nightly basis, danced on it.

Trailing by 18 points in a showdown with the Raptors for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics closed the game on a monster 52-29 run behind 44 points from their All-Star point guard to complete a 109-104 victory.

Thomas put together another incredible fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his 44 points, but the Celtics reserves set the stage for his heroics. Led by Marcus Smart (10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds), the bench helped chip away at a double-digit deficit and carried their momentum into the fourth quarter. 

Throughout the third quarter, Smart applied pressure on Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and finished strong on the offensive end by making cuts to the basket for easy layups. He was also finding his teammates for easy assists but was most effective in disrupting the flow of Toronto’s offense. 

Terry Rozier, who finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to pull the Celtics to within eight. He also pulled down two offensive rebounds in the second half to keep possessions alive and slowed down the Raptors’ reserve guards on the defensive end. Tyler Zeller, who finished with five rebounds and four points, made a reverse dunk and tossed an alley-oop to rookie Jaylen Brown to trim the deficit down to five (91-86).

From there, Thomas went on a 7-0 run — giving the Celtics their first lead with 4:39 left. 

However, Lowry, who led the Raptors with 32 points, helped his team regain the lead by draining five straight points for Toronto. With 48 ticks left, Thomas knocked in a 3-pointer to give the C’s a two-point lead before Patrick Patterson missed a 3-pointer and the Raptors were forced to intentionally foul the Celtics in the final seconds.

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Isaiah Thomas (41 points) wraps up one of the highest-scoring months in Celtics history with another incredible 4th quarter in win over Pistons

01.31.17 at 4:35 pm ET
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Jan 30, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is congratulated after making a three point basket during the second half of the Boston Celtics 113-109 win over the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas scored the last 11 points for the Celtics in Celtics’ 113-109 win over Pistons (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY)

Topping off one of the best scoring months in franchise history, Isaiah Thomas’ 24-point fourth quarter performance against the Pistons was an emphatic exclamation point to an amazing month of January. 

The two-time All-Star scored a game-high 41 points in a 113-109 Celtics win over the Pistons at TD Garden, leading his team to their fourth straight victory and ultimately guiding them to a one-game lead ahead of the Raptors (29-19) for second place in the Eastern Conference.

His 41 points on Monday pushed his average up to 32.9 points per game for the month of January — the fourth-highest scoring month in Celtics history behind Larry Bird (twice) and Paul Pierce. 

“That doesn’t even seem real,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t sound real. So many great players who did it before me, to have my name up there with those legends is unbelievable. I’m going to just keep going, keep trying to catch those guys, and keep winning.”

The Celtics (30-18) win also sets the stage for Wednesday night’s big showdown between the two best teams in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors have had the Celtics’ number throughout the season — beating them twice over the last two months. But if Thomas can continue this amazing streak of excellence that he’s on, it could be enough for the Celtics to pull out a win against DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and company. 

Along with averaging 32.9 points in January, Thomas also set a season-high average of 6.9 assists per game. Jae Crowder, one of many of Thomas’ beneficiaries in the starting lineup, is also finishing his best month of the season — averaging 16.3 points while shooting 50.3 percent from the floor, including 46.6 percent from behind the arc.

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