Celtics support Pierce’s offensive struggles
|05.08.10 at 3:55 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Paul Pierce has led the Celtics offensively so many times throughout his career that it’s no surprise his team would rally behind him during his struggles.
Pierce is shooting just 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. He is averaging 12.7 points, down from 18.3 in the regular season and 19.6 in the first round against the Heat.
After scoring 11 points (4-15 FG) in the Celtics Game 2 loss, Pierce said the Celtics’ success is not dependent on his offensive production. He believes his scoring will come, and his teammates feel the same way.
“I’m not worried about P,” Kendrick Perkins said after practice on Saturday. “I’ve been around with P a long time. I’ve seen P have a few bad nights and come back and have a 35-point night. So you just never know with P. I know he’s capable of having big games and he always steps up in big games.”
Pierce’s role during this series is more complicated than offensive contributions. He is tasked with guarding LeBron James, who after scoring 24 points in Game 2, scored 21 points in the first quarter of Game 3 alone. James finished the night with 38.
“We do want to get him the ball more. He has to get his rhythm better, but he has a big job. Guarding LeBron is very difficult and it takes a lot out of him,” said Doc Rivers, adding, “LeBron gets the ball 101 times a game. He handles the ball, he pushes the ball up the floor, he posts, so it will absolutely take something out of him. There’s no doubt about that.”
The Celtics understand the magnitude of Pierce’s role on defense. Kevin Garnett said he wants to see Pierce being aggressive on both ends of the floor. Perkins isn’t worried about whether or not that will happen.
“We all go through times where we struggle a little bit,” he said. “His intentions are good and he wants to win, but it’s just hard for him to have a big night on the offensive end when he’s guarding the most valuable player in the league. So we’ve just got to a great job of getting ball open, make sure we get him good shots, and just help him on defense. But he’s not a concern.”