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All eyes on Paul Pierce

04.23.09 at 10:17 am ET
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The general consensus courtside Monday night was that something is up with Paul Pierce. “He looks old,” one scribe said. “He looks tired,” another offered. Longtime Chicago writer Sam Smith suggested that Pierce is hurt, not that there is any proof of any of those assertions.

This is what we do know about Pierce. After two games in this series he has played 87 of a possible 101 minutes and is shooting just 40 percent from the floor, and his efficiency numbers are dreadful.

He had a chance to win Game 1 with two late free throws, but missed the second and he has not “taken over” as he has so well throughout the season. We also know this: Pierce has outplayed his Chicago counterpart John Salmons, who definitely is hurt (strained groin), holding Salmons to 36 percent shooting.

This was Pierce after Game 2:

“I just got to be patient. Let the game come to me. Sometimes I’m taking shots that aren’t there, but I’ll figure this thing out. At the end of the day it’s not about Paul Pierce. It’s about the Boston Celtics. I’ll do anything I can to help the ballclub win.”

There is no question the Celtics, and Pierce especially, made a concerted effort to get Ray Allen the ball in the second half of Game 2. For good reason, as it turns out. So now we have seen Allen take over. We have seen Rajon Rondo take over. We have seen Big Baby Davis and Kendrick Perkins have monster games.

What we haven’t seen, not yet anyway, is Pierce do his thing. That concerns Salmons who told reporters yesterday:

“My mentality is always that this is an All-Star player, a Finals MVP player, who is one of those guys who can go off for 40 at any time. We have to continue to keep a hand in his face, try to make him take as many contested shots as possible. For the most part, we’ve been doing that.”

If the Celtics are going to survive this postseason, they are going to need the cold-eyed death stare Pierce to re-emerge. Game 3 wouldn’t be a bad time for it to return.

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