Since Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL for the Boston Celtics, it’s been widely noted that the other players on their roster have raised their level of play to compensate for his absence. Much of that attention has gone to Jeff Green and deservedly so. Green and many others have definitely stepped up their play. However, Paul Pierce doesn’t get near enough credit for what he’s been doing for the Celtics lately.
Pierce is in his 15th season in the NBA, all of which have been played with the Celtics. He’s weathered through the years when the Celtics were awful and was rewarded when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came into town to make the team a contender. Everything that he’s done in Boston deserves merit, but the way he’s played without Rondo is one of the most impressive things he’s done.
With Rondo in the lineup, Pierce was showing his age. He was basically settling into a role as a spot-up shooter that didn’t have much quickness remaining in his body. He was still an elite player in the league, but he, by no means, appeared to be the star that people had grown accustomed to him being.
Pierce has been that star lately, though.
With Rondo out, Pierce has shown that he is still the leader of this team, both emotionally and with his performance. In the month of March, Pierce has done it all for the Celtics. He’s averaged 19.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, six assists, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks per game and has shot 51.4 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from beyond-the-arc. That’s unreal for a guy who looked really close to retirement at the start of the year.
As the postseason inches closer and the Celtics prepare themselves to try and make some noise as a lower seed, Pierce is going to have to continue to play like he has over the past month. The Celtics have thrived over the past couple of months by playing as more of a unit than they did with Rondo in the lineup. However, Pierce has been the leader and the engine that keeps this team going and he will have to continue to be that if they want to succeed in the playoffs.