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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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Buckle in for a wild ride 04.21.09 at 12:33 am ET
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Give Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas this much credit-he can appreciate a great series.

And that’s what we have in the first round battle between the Bulls and Celtics, tied 1-1, heading back to Chicago Thursday night for Game 3.

“They came out quick and gave us a quick punch and we knew we had to come back and answer,” Thomas said. following Boston’s 118-115 heart-pounding win over his Bulls. “We did a good job and it came down to the wire. If we play like that for the rest of the playoffs, we’re probably going to be here for a while.”

His former teammate at LSU had a similar take on how great a series this has already been.

“Last year, we went seven games with Atlanta, and we were the No. 1 seed,” said Celtics power forward Glen Davis, who finished with 26 on Monday night. “Playoffs is the playoffs. Intensity level goes up, execution goes up and teams want it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bulls teach champs a lesson 04.18.09 at 6:00 pm ET
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It was the underdog Chicago Bulls with names like Rose, Thomas and Noah who taught a lesson on Saturday afternoon to the champion Celtics with names like Pierce, Ray Allen and Rondo. Bring your playoff intensity or else.

And the else in Game 1 was a 105-103 overtime loss at the hands of the Bulls at TD Banknorth Garden.

“I think we lost the game in the first half,” Allen said. “Just going down the way we went, we just allowed the team to do whatever, we weren’t really the aggressor starting the game, and they started rolling, they were comfortable and they did what they wanted to do.”

On Saturday, we really found out why Doc Rivers feared Derrick Rose all season. He diced up his defense to the tune of 36 points, matching Lew Alcindor’s mark on March 25, 1970 when he was with the Bucks.

Whether it was the emotion of the last two days with the Kevin Garnett and Danny Ainge news or simply a team that was tired, the Celtics came out flat on Saturday, something that can’t happen again on Monday night.

“We didn’t talk about it much,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Obviously, I hope that’s not what it was. It could be. I mean, who knows the emotions. You just think, first playoff game you’d be ready and up. And I just thought we kind of showed up and played the game. And then all of a sudden we got into a fight. And one thing I’d say about our guys, they join in. But at home you’re supposed to start it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Pierce breaks Twitter mark 04.17.09 at 5:08 pm ET
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It took Celtics captain Paul Pierce just 20 days to break the 100,000 follower mark on Twitter. Pierce sent his first tweet on March 28 about enjoying the weather in Boston on a day off from practice. Since then he has given away Celtics tickets, spread the word for a potentially-life saving blood drive, and promoted a postseason ticket raffle. Follow Pierce (paulpierce34) on Twitter here.

Related story: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

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Rivers: If you only knew at 2:30 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Doc Rivers was in understandable shock on Thursday morning.

The Celtics coach had just told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan that the C’s would be without their emotional leader and shutdown defender, Kevin Garnett, likely for the playoffs. And he had just found out that his boss and one of his closest friends in the game, Danny Ainge, had just suffered a heart attack.

So he could certainly be forgiven when he said on Friday that he couldn’t remember which came first.

“We make the Kevin decision and then literally, the next thing follows,” Rivers retold. “I don’t remember which was first. It was just not a good period. When someone calls you and says, ‘A guy had a heart attack.’ They should follow. It scares the hell out of you, because they stop. And it’s the pause is what killed me because obviously you think the worst but he’s lucky. And that’s good.”

But good was about the last thing you would call Thursday for anyone associated with the Celtics.

“It was awful,” Rivers said. “Someone said it didn’t look like I wasn’t giving the Kevin thing a lot of thought at the time and I said that’s because you didn’t know what was going through my mind at the time.

“At that time, he was going into surgery,” Rivers continued. “You’re scared, you’re worried. So it hit hard for that, it hit me hard because he’s my friend and it hit me hard because he’s my age. It was scary for me and for everybody but when you know somebody like I know Danny, it just really tugs at you.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Pierce, Ray get the night off 04.15.09 at 8:58 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers was true to his word that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen would sit out tonight’s season finale against the Washington Wizards at TD Banknorth Garden.

Pierce was officially designated “inactive” while Ray Allen was active as each team is only allowed to deactivate three players a game. Allen was also in a suit next to Pierce on the bench.

Rivers added that Rajon Rondo will start the game but play only limited minutes, “definitely the first (quarter) and maybe the third (quarter)”  as the team gets ready to take on either Philadelphia or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

Rivers threw out a starting lineup of Rondo, Marbury, Perkins, Powe and Tony Allen, who started at the three spot.

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Time to step it up at 8:18 pm ET
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Wearing a tan suit with a orange shirt, tie and handkerchief, Paul Pierce address the crowd on Fan Appreciation Night at TD Banknorth Garden prior to the regular season finale with the Washington Wizards.

Pierce thanked the crowd for making the arena a true home court advantage and “one of the toughest” buildings for opponents to come away with a victory.

But he also had another message for the crowd, which came to its feet as he took the mic on Lucky the Leprechaun at midcourt.

“This is the time of year you expect us to step it up,” Pierce said. “We also need you fans to step up”

Pierce was inactive for the season finale.

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